Texas’ and America’s Ports Lead the Way
By Congressman Randy Weber (TX-14)
In the 118th Congress, I will be honored to represent 7 ports in my congressional district, Texas’ Fourteenth. With more ports than any other Member of Congress, I feel equally blessed to serve as the Republican Co-Chair of the Congressional PORTS Caucus. Of course, the acronym stands for more than simply ports. In its proper form, written in all caps, it refers to the “Ports Opportunity, Renewal, Trade, and Security” Caucus.
Alongside all the work of the Congressional PORTS Caucus, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has been a key partner bridging the gap from portside stakeholders to elected officeholders on Capitol Hill. 110 years following their initial founding, the AAPA has inaugurated a program that clearly outlines the industry’s federal vision for our ongoing journey through the 21st century. We refer to it as the “Port Opportunities with Energy, Resilience, and Sustainability” (or “POWERS”) program.
I am intrigued by the various pillars that provide the foundation for the POWERS program. These include developing the infrastructure (both human and physical) necessary for offshore wind energy: Texas has led the nation in wind-powered electricity for roughly the past 15 years. Last year, Texas produced nearly 26 percent of the U.S. wind energy. And, of course, given our all-too-familiar experience with hurricanes and other tropical storms, the POWERS program’s emphasis on increasing port resilience is a critical interest for all Gulf Coast ports.
But I’ve got to say that I am particularly thrilled about the program’s focus on liquefied natural gas (LNG). As we have all followed the devastating developments in Europe (especially since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine), LNG offers the capacity to relieve much of the free world’s current energy constraints.
At the end of the 116th Congress, I was honored by the opportunity to succeed Rep. Ted Poe (TX-02) as the Republican Co-Chair of the Congressional PORTS Caucus. There, I joined with the Democratic Co-Chair, Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), to promote the priorities of our various ports around the nation, including our joint efforts as members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to pass the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) in both 2020 and 2022, just as we had done in 2014, 2016, and 2018. Now, as we prepare for a transition from the retiring Rep. Lowenthal to his successor as Congressional PORTS Caucus Co-Chair, it is all the more appropriate that this period of transition is marked by the advent of AAPA’s POWERS program.
Port directors from all over the country—not to mention the Members who represent them in Congress—will find some aspect of the POWERS program that will fit particularly well with their respective facilities. As the incoming bipartisan co-chairs of the Congressional PORTS Caucus, we look forward to working with all stakeholders to achieve the maximum potential from these great contributors in our districts, to the vast countryside that we’ll all supply and to the world with whom we’ll share our economy’s tremendous bounty.
Editor’s Note: AAPA is proud to feature the voices of a wide variety of thought leaders who care deeply about ports and supply chain resilience, funding, and success. This and forthcoming articles like it solely express the sentiments of the writer and may not reflect the beliefs of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) and its stakeholders or members.