As the chairman portrays it, the details of the law matter less than the fact that Congress has mustered action, sending a warning to recalcitrant ocean carriers.
“Deterrence is what it’s about,” Mr. Maffei says. “On a day-to-day basis, we’re too small an agency. We’re never going to catch every instance.”
The passage of the law has already had an impact, say exporters, prompting ocean carriers to make more containers available at West Coast ports. It has also changed perceptions about the commission’s once-cozy dealings with the carriers.
“They became hostage to the industry,” says Peter Friedmann, a former Capitol Hill aide who heads the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, an advocacy and lobbying organization. “The commission has really turned the corner.”
The changed tone was reflected in the blistering note of protest unleashed by the World Shipping Council, an industry lobbying group, on the day Congress passed the new law.
“We are appalled by the continued mischaracterization of the industry by U.S. government representatives,” the statement declared, condemning a “disconnect between hard data and inflammatory rhetoric.”