Tester expands Port of Wild Horse hours
Senator pushed to extend pilot initiative to increase trade, help local economy
(U.S. SENATE) – Responding to pressure from Senator Jon Tester, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced today that it will continue extended hours at the Port of Wild Horse for at least one more year.
The Port of Wild Horse, on the Canadian border northwest of Havre, will open to traffic at 8 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. beginning April 5. The hours will remain in effect through October 31.
“Senator Tester has worked tirelessly to expand the hours of operation at the Port of Wild Horse and his efforts are paying off,” said Paul Tuss, Executive Director of Bear Paw Development. “Today's announcement means more dollars flowing into the cash registers of businesses all along the Hi-Line and throughout north central Montana.”
Customs and Border Protection previously planned to discontinue a pilot initiative that extended port hours. But Tester told the agency that it needed to reconsider because its plan was based on incomplete analysis.
“I believe that CBP’s data in incomplete, largely because our Canadian counterparts did not extend operating hours for the full duration of this pilot project,” Tester wrote Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner David Aguilar. “I strongly believe an extension of the current pilot project, in full coordination with our Canadian counterparts, is critical to our economic development and job creation.”
Canada will match Wild Horse operating hours for the next year.
The Port of Wild Horse is a key port for international trade between the United States and Canada.
Tester’s involvement in the port began in 2007, when he introduced legislation to extend port hours. In 2008, he held a field hearing in Havre to discuss the port and later brought Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and former Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin to Havre.
Tester’s letter to current CBP Commissioner David Aguilar is available below.
March 1, 2012
The Honorable David Aguilar
Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20229
Dear Acting Commissioner Aguilar:
I appreciate Customs and Border Protection (CBP) working with my office as well as local officials in Havre, Montana, to implement a pilot project to expand the hours of operation at the Port of Wild Horse.
However, I have concerns that CBP has chosen not to extend this project, and will therefore be unable to gather complete data on the cost effectiveness of Wild Horse moving toward a 24-hour commercial facility. I believe CBP's current data is incomplete, largely because our Canadian counterparts did not extend operating hours on their side of the border for the full duration of this pilot project.
Given the current fiscal climate and our ongoing efforts to identify savings throughout the federal government, I remain fully aware of CBP's difficult task of fulfilling its responsibilities amidst budgetary limitations. However, I also strongly believe that facilitating trade along the northern border and improving cross-border commerce is critical to our economic development and job creation. That is why former Commissioner Alan Bersin was a staunch proponent of this initiative. And it is why I strongly believe an extension of the current pilot project, in full coordination with our Canadian counterparts, is critical.
I appreciate your consideration of this request, and look forward to working with you on this issue of great importance to Montana.