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Ports Primer: 7.4 Agency Responsibilities

Link to Home Page of Ports Primer for Communities   Link to Section 2, The Role of Ports   Link to Section 3, How Ports Work   Link to Section 4, Port-Community Relations   Link to Section 5.0, Land Use and Transportation   Link to Section 6, Local and Regional Economy   Link to Section 7, Environmental Impacts   Link to Section 8, Tools and Resources   Link to Section 9, Appendix   Link to Glossary for Ports Primer   Link to Endnotes for Ports Primer
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In addition to EPA, many federal, state and local agencies have responsibilities related to ports and port-related issues. A chart in Section 3 outlines federal regulation of port operations in more detail. This section describes:

  • State and local agencies with environmental oversight 
  • Federal agencies with environmental oversight

State and Local Agencies

State and local agencies with responsibilities related to human health and the environment will vary. Generally speaking, the following agencies may have oversight, planning or service responsibilities:

Area Potential Agencies
Environment State and local departments of the environment
Local health departments (occasionally)
Transportation and Goods Movement State and local transportation departments
Metropolitan Planning Organizations
Health State and local health departments
Development and Land Use Planning State and local planning departments
Local planning commission

For resources to help locate state level regulators: Port Compliance: State Regulations Exit

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Federal Agencies

Federal agencies with responsibilities include:

Agency Key Areas of Authority Related to Ports and the Environment
Environmental Protection Agency Water and air quality, Coastal zone management, Hazardous wastes, Toxic substances, Storage tanks and spills, Brownfield and Superfund sites, Dredging, Emergency planning
Fish and Wildlife Service Invasive species, Threatened and endangered species, Fishing operations, Importing and exporting wildlife, Oil spills
National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Coastal brownfields (due to concerns of impacts on endangered species)
Army Corps of Engineers Dredging operations, Fill materials
Coast Guard (Homeland Security) Hazardous wastes coming off ships, Vapor control systems, Oil spills, Environmental regulations from MARPOL (MARPOL is the abbreviation for the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978), Certain aspects of navigable water control
Department of Transportation Hazardous materials transport, Natural gas and other gas transported by pipeline
Department of Agriculture ImportHelpImportsCommodities of foreign origin entering the United States, as well as goods of domestic origin returned to the United States with no change in condition or after having been processed and/or assembled in other countries./exportHelpexportsMerchandise transported out of the United States to foreign countries. of food products, Inspections of food products, Labeling guidelines
Food and Drug Administration Import/export of food products, Fish & fishery product hazards, Food labeling and safety guidance
Federal Maritime Commission Certain activities of Marine TerminalHelpMarine TerminalPort facilities for docking, cargo-handling and storage. Operators
Customs and Border Protection (Homeland Security) Security and screening of cargo, Inspections

For more information and related resources: Port Compliance: Federal Regulations Exitor see the Appendix for additional resources.

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