WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure held the hearing, “Freight Movement: Assessing Where We Are Now And Where We Need To Go.” Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:
“Subcommittee Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Cardin, before we begin, I just want to take a moment and personally thank you for holding this oversight hearing on the movement of freight on our nation’s water and transportation infrastructure. Our nation’s freight transportation network -- which includes an interconnected network of trucks, trains, aircrafts, ships and barges -- moves 55 million tons of goods worth more than $49 billion each day. In addition, freight supports 44 million jobs.
“Seaports and highways are economic engines and vital freight gateways to the global marketplace for American farmers, manufacturers and consumers and serve as critical infrastructure for the U.S. military. It is, therefore, appropriate that this Subcommittee is examining the operation of our freight system because the safe and efficient movement of goods, both into and out of the United States, is the backbone of our economy. In my home state of Delaware, the Port of Wilmington has the largest dock-side refrigerated complex in North America and is the top North American port for imports of fresh fruit, specifically bananas, and juice concentrate. So think of Delaware the next time you are having breakfast! Our port also handles automobiles, steel, forest products, livestock, petroleum and other cargo.
“This hearing is coming at a critical time. The amount of freight in the U.S. is projected to grow 40 percent by 2045, including by 44 percent for truck tonnage and 38 percent for water. America’s trade volume is also expected to quadruple after 2030, with the U.S. projected to export more than 52 million shipping containers through U.S. seaports each year. We must prepare the nation’s infrastructure to meet this growing demand for the safe and efficient movement of freight.
“As you know, the President has raised the issue of America needing to modernize and rebuild aging infrastructure. Democratic Senators released a blueprint for addressing infrastructure challenges earlier this year. I believe that members on both sides of the aisle are supportive of addressing our freight infrastructure needs, but before we can really understand the scope of the problem and what needs to be part of a bill, we need to have discussions such as we are having today. We must work in a bipartisan fashion to really address these concerns and build consensus on a path forward for our economy. Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.”