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  April 21st, 2015 | Written by

Answers Sought on the Impact of the West Coast Port Disruption

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  • Sen. Fischer petitions Gov. Accountability Office to study long-term impact of U.S. West Coast ports disruptions.
  • Sen. Fischer requests analysis of infrastructure at West Coast ports and ability to withstand future disruptions.

The chairman of a major U.S. Senate subcommittee has petitioned the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study of the long-term impact of the recent labor contract disruption that affected the flow of cargo through 29 U.S. West Coast ports.

In a letter to the GAO, Sen. Debra Fischer (R-Nebraska) wrote, “Throughout the nine-month dispute, stalled negotiations caused widespread delays in cargo movement, inventory shortfalls at retail stores, crop losses to Agricultural producers, and input delivery delays to manufacturers.”

Fischer, who serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, is requesting the GAO reports on “the implications of disruptions at West Coast Ports for various industries, particularly any increased transportation costs, inventory shortfalls, or market share losses.”



In addition, Fischer wants information regarding “how shifts to alternative transportation modes, including truck, rail, inland waterways, or aviation, [have] affected industry supply chains,” and “what are the costs and impacts of regional changes in freight movements due to the West Coast ports slowdown, including shifts to southern or eastern U.S. ports and Canadian and Mexican ports.”

Most importantly, though, Fischer is requesting an analysis of the current condition of infrastructure at West Coast ports and the status of its ability to withstand future disruptions. “Seaports serve as gateways to domestic and international commerce, connecting U.S. businesses, workers, and consumers to the global marketplace,” writes Fischer.

West Coast ports, in particular, she says, “are key hubs for international trade, handling nearly half of all U.S. maritime imports and exports, including inputs for manufactures in Nebraska and across the United States.”

Fischer has given the GAO 18 months to compile its report.