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Federal Appropriations Recommendations

Ports and Harbors Economic Impacts

Board of Directors


The Economic Benefits
California Ports And Harbors

California ports, harbors and businesses that depend on Federal channels and breakwaters contribute:

  • $40,624,000,000 per year to national economic output.
  • 1,162,000 jobs.
  • $21,852,000,000 annual personal income to the U. S. economy.
  • $8,068,000,000 per year to Federal taxes and customs duties.

The benefits are real:

  • The benefits are based on an exhaustive inventory of over 1,300 confirmed California port users.
  • Profiles of typical port user characteristics were derived from a statistically significant sample of over 500 port and harbor users.
  • All other data used are from verifiable sources. Calculations follow commonly accepted economic methodology.

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California ports and harbors are an interdependent system:

  • Centralized large deepwater port complexes are required for economies of scale in large, long-distance cargo movements. California’s port and harbor system includes large deepwater port complexes on San Francisco Bay and the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor, containing massive terminals for the latest generations of post-Panamax container ships, supertankers and large bulk carriers. For these functions to expand to meet growing demand, it is essential that other functions be accommodated in surrounding smaller ports and harbors.
  • Decentralized small deepwater ports are required as collection and distribution points for petroleum products, minerals, grain, forest products, and general cargo. California’s port and harbor system includes seven small and medium-sized deep-draft harbors on the State’s coast, rivers and bays, from which significant exports originate.
  • Decentralized small craft harbors are required to realize the enormous resource potential in the ocean’s rich coastal shelves. Harbors must be available near ocean use areas for commercial fishing, marine construction, mineral extraction, ocean research, recreational boating and public safety. California’s port and harbor system includes twenty-five shallow-draft harbors at decentralized coast and estuary sites as well as small craft facilities in all the deep-draft harbors.

Reducing the Congressionally mandated maintenance of California ports and harbors would cripple the port system:

Restricted Use Capability

After 1 Year 7 of 36 harbors
After 6 Years 23 of 36 harbors
After 10 Years 29 of 36 harbors

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California port and harbor maintenance is in the public interest:

  • Public benefits greatly exceed public costs.
  • State and local governments cannot fairly allocate costs among the nationwide beneficiaries of the California harbor system.
  • California ports and harbors need the centralized disaster response capability of a Federal agency to deal with the unpredictable costs and timing of maintenance dredging and breakwater repairs requirements, and to provide rapid restoration of ocean access when it is interrupted.
  • Ocean access, once abandoned, will be irreversibly lost, due to land development and environmental pressures.

California port and harbor maintenance is in the Federal interest:

  • Port and harbor maintenance promotes interstate trade and commerce.
  • Port and harbor maintenance protects national competitiveness in the rapidly growing Pacific Rim markets and the rest of the world.
  • Every dollar spent on Federal port and harbor maintenance generates more than $160 in Federal revenues.


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The California Economic Engine
Annual Economic Return to the Nation
Federal Appropriations for California Ports and Harbors


  • $41 billion to the Gross Domestic Product
  • $8 billion to the U.S. Treasury
  • 1.16 million jobs
  • $1.00 of Federal O & M appropriations contributes $812 to the Gross Domestic Product
  • $1.00 of Federal O & M appropriations contributes $161 to the Treasury
  • Between $150-200 million is needed to maintain California’s ports and harbors to handle almost 31% of all US ocean trade and support the State’s #1 industry, tourism. Less than 1/2 of that need is recommended by the President or appropriated by The Congress and the Treasury is losing tax revenue.
  • California is the 7th largest world economy. It depends on the Federal Civil Works mission.
  • Current demand on California infrastructure is overwhelming and increasing at 6% per year.


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Value of Waterborne International Trade, 1997

United States $625,576 million

California Ports $193,665 million

= 31.0% of US Trade

source: US Bureau of the Census, Report # FT 920

Waterborne International Trade Growth, 1995-1997

California Ports + 6.1%

source: US Bureau of the Census, Report # FT 920

California Containerized Cargo Growth, January-August >97-=98

Loaded International Containers + 7.6%

source: JOC-PIERS


C-MANC Economic Benefit Study Message

California’s complex of large and small ports, harbors, marine terminals and associated coastal facilities carry 31% of the nation’s waterborne international trade cargoes, connecting every state with the Pacific Rim and propelling the whole nation’s economic growth and prosperity. This complex contributes $40.6 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product and over $8.0 billion annually to the revenues of the Federal Treasury.

These contributions to the nation’s economy urgently depend upon annual maintenance of the Federal channels and breakwaters that permit the complexes to function. A single year’s delay of any project can make a harbor inaccessible at times to fully laden ships, reducing the nation’s competitiveness in international markets.

Federal harbor infrastructure is a part of the nation’s Civil Works infrastructure that has historically been developed and maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers in the national interest under Co

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Federal Appropriations Recommendations

ngressional mandate. Along with the Interstate Highway System and the National Air Navigation System, it is Federally funded because it is a key element of the nation’s economic engine and defense capability.

California infrastructure is dependent on adequate levels of Energy and Water appropriations, which must include approximately $150-200 million per year for Corps of Engineers harbor project operation and maintenance in California. Any less will cause rapid deterioration of California harbor accessibility and significant losses to the nation’s economy.

This study documents these findings and warns of the attendant restrictive economic and fiscal circumstances that will result from inadequate Federal Civil Works budget allocations and appropriations.


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