The Port Authority of NY/NJ is the largest port on the East Coast and the third-largest port in the nation supporting 280,000 jobs. In 2011, the Authority became the only port in the United States to impose a cargo facility charge (CFC) on all waterborne cargo, including on empty containers. State Senator Bob Gordon wants to put a stop to the fees.

“The Port of New York and New Jersey is an economic engine for our region, supporting commerce, jobs and economic activity. We have to make sure we are protecting its long-term viability,” says Gordon. “Imposing a fee on ocean carriers was a step in the wrong direction as it places us at a competitive disadvantage, threatening the future success of our port and the hundreds of thousands of local jobs it supports. We should be looking to make the port stronger and more competitive, and repealing this fee will go a long way toward doing that.”

A bill sponsored by Gordon to halt shipping in order to protect the competitiveness of the region’s port and the hundreds of thousands of local jobs it supports has been approved by the Senate Transportation Committee.

“The widening of the Panama Canal will create new business opportunities for our region, but will also increase competition among ports along the Eastern seaboard and across the country,” said Senator Gordon. “We cannot afford to put our port at a disadvantage, especially at this critical time. Eliminating the fee imposed on cargo carriers will ensure that we are not harming our business potential, while also protecting local jobs and the local, state and regional economy.”

The fee is $4.95 for 20-foot containers, $9.90 for 40-foot containers, and $1.11 per unit for vehicle cargo. Shortly after the fee was imposed, a number of carriers filed a complaint with the Federal Maritime Commission, arguing that cargo lines should not be made responsible for investments in rail, roadway and security improvements, to which the fee revenue is dedicated. The case is still in the discovery phase before an administrative law judge.

The bill would prohibit the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from imposing a cargo facility charge on users, ocean common carriers and marine terminal operators, without a written mutual agreement between that user, ocean common carrier, or marine terminal operator and the Port Authority. The bill would also prohibit the imposition of cargo facility charges on rail carriers.

The committee approved the bill by a vote of 5-0, and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.