Senate committee passes 2018 Coast Guard reauthorization

MAY 19, 2017 — The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation yesterday passed S. 1129, the 2018 Coast Guard reauthorization act by voice vote.

Among other things it authorizes the Coast Guard Commandant to utilize multiyear funding for procuring future National Security Cutters. This change will allow the Coast Guard to reduce the price of follow-on vessels and give shipyards greater predictability, stabilizing workforces.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-MS, says this would authorize the Coast Guard to pursue multiyear contract authority to acquire three additional National Security Cutters.

AWO (the American Waterways Operators) said it welcomed inclusion of the Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (CVIDA) in the reauthorization act.

AWO describes CVIDA as "bipartisan legislation that streamlines what is currently a broken regulatory system in which commercial vessels moving vital maritime commerce on U.S. waterways are subject to conflicting and duplicative vessel discharge regulations by two federal agencies and 25 states. Under CVIDA, regulations for ballast water and other discharges from commercial vessel operations are consolidated under the authority of the Coast Guard, in consultation with EPA."

"The inclusion of CVIDA in today's mark-up of the Coast Guard Authorization Act is a critical milestone in the bipartisan effort to enact sensible vessel discharge regulatory reform that ensures the smooth functioning of interstate maritime commerce while maintaining high environmental standards, both of which are of great importance to the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry," said AWO President & CEO Tom Allegretti.

The authorization bill also includes a provision requiring the Coast Guard to submit a plan to Congress to replace the aging tender vessel fleet.

Mr. Allegretti commented: "A modernized, robust fleet of Coast Guard inland waterway and river tenders is vital to the safety and efficiency of maritime commerce, a fundamental pillar of our national economy.

Read the text of the act HERE

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