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Baucus weighs in on Wild Horse confusion

 


Baucus weighs in on Wild Horse confusion

Sen. calls on Homeland Security secretary to resolve commercial traffic extension

Tim Leeds

Montana's senior senator, Democrat Max Baucus, has stepped into a confusing situation at the Port of Wild Horse.

The senator has called on Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to help resolve differences in extended summer hours at the U. S.-Canadian border port north of Havre.

"Folks along the Hi-Line deserve to know why this pilot project to extend hours is not happening the way we all expected, " Baucus said in a press release Tuesday afternoon. "I am disappointed and will keep pushing to ensure it is successful. We know more traffic through the Port of Wild Horse will mean more good-paying Montana jobs. "

"I am deeply disappointed in an apparent lack of leadership and cooperation within the Department of Homeland Security, but I'm ready to work with all parties to see this pilot program reach its full potential, " added Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

That committee has sole jurisdiction over international trade, the increase of which is one of the main goals of proponents of expanding the port's operation.

In the letter, Baucus also called on Napolitano to define for him precisely what her department's goals in the pilot project are, what data it will collect, what work has been done and will be done to coordinate the project with the Canadian side, what the long-term goals and methods from both sides are to increase traffic between the two nations, and what resources are needed to further those goals.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., sent a letter to U. S. Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Alan Bersin and Canadian Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews asking that Canada mirror the U. S. hours for commercial traffic.

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., said this morning that he will continue to monitor the situation.

"The Port of Wild Horse is an important route for agricultural traffic during the summer months, " he told the Havre Daily News. "I hope that U. S. Customs and Border Protection will work with the Canadians to find a way keep the port open to commercial traffic during the extended hours to accommodate the farmers and ranchers who utilize the port. "

Supporters of the effort, including grassroots organizers in the Havre area and Alberta, as well as the U. S. lawmakers and their Canadian counterparts, seemed surprised last week that the Canadian Border Services Agency had limited commercial traffic during the pilot project.

Last fall, at the invitation of Baucus and Tester, Napolitano and Bersin toured the Montana Border. During a town hall meeting in Havre, the two announced resumption of a trial to extend the period of summer hours — normally open 8 a. m to 9 p. m. May 15 to Sept. 30 — through Oct. 31 of last year and from March 1 through Oct. 31 this year. That trial also had been done in 2009, although the Canadian side did not match the full extension of hours.

The Canadian agency also did not match the summer hours extension last fall, but later agreed it would match the pilot project hours this year.

Last week a representative of the agency, Lisa White, confirmed that the extension of summer hours only applied to travelers — commercial traffic still was limited to 8 a. m. to 5 p. m. Monday through Friday. That is the normal procedure during the summer hours, she said.

On the U. S. side, commercial traffic is allowed through from 8 a. m. to 9 p. m. Sunday through Saturday.

Supporters of the initiative said they assumed, when the Canadian agency announced its matching hours last fall, that it would include commercial traffic.

LaVar Payne, member of the Canadian Parliament for Medicine Hat, said last week that he does not understand why the commercial traffic hours are not mirrored. The Border Services personnel that are there can be checking the trucks through, he said.

"I'm extremely disappointed. It makes absolutely no sense to me, " he said.

Editor's note: View copies of Baucus' and Tester's letters online at http://www.havredailynews.com.

Montana's senior senator, Democrat Max Baucus, has stepped into a confusing situation at the Port of Wild Horse.

The senator has called on Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to help resolve differences in extended summer hours at the U. S.-Canadian border port north of Havre.

"Folks along the Hi-Line deserve to know why this pilot project to extend hours is not happening the way we all expected, " Baucus said in a press release Tuesday afternoon. "I am disappointed and will keep pushing to ensure it is successful. We know more traffic through the Port of Wild Horse will mean more good-paying Montana jobs. "

"I am deeply disappointed in an apparent lack of leadership and cooperation within the Department of Homeland Security, but I'm ready to work with all parties to see this pilot program reach its full potential, " added Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

That committee has sole jurisdiction over international trade, the increase of which is one of the main goals of proponents of expanding the port's operation.

In the letter, Baucus also called on Napolitano to define for him precisely what her department's goals in the pilot project are, what data it will collect, what work has been done and will be done to coordinate the project with the Canadian side, what the long-term goals and methods from both sides are to increase traffic between the two nations, and what resources are needed to further those goals.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., sent a letter to U. S. Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Alan Bersin and Canadian Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews asking that Canada mirror the U. S. hours for commercial traffic.

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., said this morning that he will continue to monitor the situation.

"The Port of Wild Horse is an important route for agricultural traffic during the summer months, " he told the Havre Daily News. "I hope that U. S. Customs and Border Protection will work with the Canadians to find a way keep the port open to commercial traffic during the extended hours to accommodate the farmers and ranchers who utilize the port. "

Supporters of the effort, including grassroots organizers in the Havre area and Alberta, as well as the U. S. lawmakers and their Canadian counterparts, seemed surprised last week that the Canadian Border Services Agency had limited commercial traffic during the pilot project.

Last fall, at the invitation of Baucus and Tester, Napolitano and Bersin toured the Montana Border. During a town hall meeting in Havre, the two announced resumption of a trial to extend the period of summer hours — normally open 8 a. m to 9 p. m. May 15 to Sept. 30 — through Oct. 31 of last year and from March 1 through Oct. 31 this year. That trial also had been done in 2009, although the Canadian side did not match the full extension of hours.

The Canadian agency also did not match the summer hours extension last fall, but later agreed it would match the pilot project hours this year.

Last week a representative of the agency, Lisa White, confirmed that the extension of summer hours only applied to travelers — commercial traffic still was limited to 8 a. m. to 5 p. m. Monday through Friday. That is the normal procedure during the summer hours, she said.

On the U. S. side, commercial traffic is allowed through from 8 a. m. to 9 p. m. Sunday through Saturday.

Supporters of the initiative said they assumed, when the Canadian agency announced its matching hours last fall, that it would include commercial traffic.

LaVar Payne, member of the Canadian Parliament for Medicine Hat, said last week that he does not understand why the commercial traffic hours are not mirrored. The Border Services personnel that are there can be checking the trucks through, he said.

"I'm extremely disappointed. It makes absolutely no sense to me, " he said.

View a copy of Baucus' letter.

View a copy of Tester's letter.

 

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