Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Washington Waves: October 22, 2018

Washington, D.C.—President Donald Trump touted his administration’s “historic and unprecedented effort to remove job-killing regulations.”

“We’re lifting the crushing federal burdens on farmers, ranchers, factory workers, energy producers and businesses of all types,” Trump said during a meeting of his Cabinet.

He credited his deregulatory effort, along with tax cut legislation and trade policies, for unleashing an “economic miracle” that includes cutting jobless claims to a 50-year low, ending the “war on American energy” and restoring the country’s place in the world’s competitive world economy.

As part of the update on the president’s promise to cut red tape, the White House also provided figures on $23 billion saved by American families and businesses in fiscal year 2018, 176 deregulatory actions issued by the administration last year, and 12 regulations eliminated for every new one.

“President Donald J. Trump is delivering on his promise to get rid of unnecessary, outdated and duplicative regulations,” the press release stated.

The White House cited the ongoing effort to “reassess” the Waters of the United States rule as an example of reforms expected in fiscal year 2019.

Infrastructure Cooperation?

Clearly confident of her party’s odds in the upcoming midterm elections, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California singled out infrastructure as one area Democrats could work with the Republican Trump administration.

“To build from sea to shining sea, infrastructure of America,” Pelosi said during an appearance at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.

Later during her appearance, the first woman ever to serve as speaker of the House of Representatives sounded resolute when asked what piece of the Democratic agenda she would be willing to get in exchange for giving Trump funding for the wall he wants to build on the U.S. border with Mexico.

“Nothing,” she answered, making it clear Democrats want to work on securing the border and passing comprehensive immigration legislation but without the wall.

“It happens to be like a manhood issue for the president, and I am not interested in that.”

Trump has served notice he wants funding for the wall approved during the postelection lame-duck session of the current Republican-controlled Congress.

A partial government shutdown also appears to be on the table in December.

Save Our Seas Act

President Trump signed into law Senate Bill 3508, the “Save Our Seas Act of 2018,” beefing up the program to reduce tons of marine debris, boosting safety in the maritime industry following the 2015 El Faro tragedy and creating a Blue Technology Center of Expertise to help the Coast Guard with emerging maritime technologies.

“Every year, over 8 million tons of garbage is dumped into our beautiful oceans by many countries of the world,” Trump said.

“This waste, trash, and debris harms not only marine life, but also fishermen, coastal economies along America’s vast stretches. The bad news is it floats toward us.”

MTS Vulnerabilities

The U.S. Coast Guard said emerging technologies have produced a Marine Transportation System (MTS) that is highly efficient and interdependent, but also susceptible to disruption that could damage the nation’s economy and security.

“Maritime commerce accounts for $4.6 trillion in annual economic activity,” Coast Guard Vice Adm. Daniel Abel, deputy commandant for operations, said announcing the Maritime Commerce Strategic Outlook, a long-term vision to support and grow maritime commerce in the U.S.

“This strategy emphasizes the critical need for a ready, relevant, and responsive Coast Guard that maximizes America’s economic prosperity through the maritime domain.”

Specifically, automation, interconnectivity, robotics and networked systems were identified as factors that make more complex the Coast Guard’s duty to safeguard the MTS and promote uninterrupted flow of maritime commerce.

“Any disruption—even a brief interruption—to America’s MTS has the potential for damaging effects to the nation’s economy and national security,” Abel said.

Three lines of effort were included in the strategy: facilitating lawful trade and travel on secure waterways, modernizing aids to navigation and mariner information systems and transforming workforce capacity and partnerships.

To support its vision, the Coast Guard said it will accelerate integration of modern navigation systems into an existing network of buoys and beacons.

The Coast Guard said it also will enhance relationships with the maritime community, leverage bilateral and multilateral relationships, improve international standards and guidelines and continue to work with state and local governments to ensure that vessels are subject to consistent standards, while collaborating on protecting and preserving U.S. waters.

“American economic global competitiveness depends on a state-of-the-art intermodal ports and waterways network,” Abel said.

AAPA’s Nagle To Retire

Kurt Nagle, long-time president and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), announced plans to retire in the fall of 2019.

Nagle began working at AAPA in 1985 as the membership services director and was appointed to his current position in 1995.

“It’s been an honor to serve the public ports in the western hemisphere and a privilege to work with so many dedicated industry professionals,” said Nagle, who has been with AAPA for almost a third of its 106-year history.

Port of Cleveland President and CEO William Friedman, who became AAPA’s chairman of the board earlier this month, said Nagle will leave a lasting legacy.

AAPA said Friedman indicated the process to select Nagle’s successor will begin immediately.

Lakes Pilotage Rates

The Coast Guard is accepting comments on its proposed rule to adjust Great Lakes pilotage rates and surcharges for the 2019 shipping season.

 According to the Federal Register notice, the proposal would revise rates to account for anticipated traffic, an increase in the number of pilots, anticipated inflation and surcharges for applicant pilots.

“The result is an increase in pilotage rates, due to adjustment for inflation and the addition of two pilots,” the Coast Guard stated.

Comments must be received by November 16.

For additional information, contact Brian Rogers at 202-372-1535.

Missouri River Extension

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers responded to requests from stakeholders and members of Congress by again extending the waiting period for signature of the Final Missouri River Recovery Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement Record of Decision.

A Corps official said a number of the requests cited the length of the Environmental Impact Statement.

With the most recent extension, the waiting period now runs through November 9.

Additional comments will be accepted during the waiting period, but the official said responses will not be provided, adding it is not a public comment period.

For additional information, contact Tiffany Vanosdall at 402-995-2695.