Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Washington Waves: November 5, 2018

Washington, D.C.—President Donald Trump used wide-ranging remarks to the annual convention of the Future Farmers of America to promote his administration’s efforts on several issues of interest to the waterways industry.

Trump took another swipe at the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, describing it as “one of the most ridiculous regulations of all” despite its “most beautiful name.”

“It means you couldn’t farm your land. It means you couldn’t build houses on your land. It means you couldn’t do anything with your land,” he said.

“If you had a little puddle on your land—you heard this—it was considered, for purposes of that rule, a lake. And you came under restrictions and regulations that made it impossible to go anywhere near it. Honestly, it was insane.”

His remarks followed possibly an unintended indication by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the administration’s lead agency in the anti-WOTUS effort, that appeared to confirm concerns EPA’s timetable on that matter is slipping into 2019.

Trump also touted his administration’s deregulatory effort in other areas.

“Since the day I took office, we have removed, delayed, cancelled, or withdrawn more than 2,200 planned federal rules and regulations,” Trump said.

“These regulations don’t just destroy jobs; they limit your freedom, they sap your resources, they interfere in your businesses, and they undermine your way of life.”

Trump also spoke of his effort to replace NAFTA with a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement and his “unprecedented” use of tariffs, including those imposed in what he called a “trade dispute” with China.

“I want to use that word because it’s a nice, soft word,” he said.

“But we’re going to win. You know why? Because we always win.”

VIDA Compromise

A compromise has been reached on the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act with a key vote expected November 13 after the Senate reconvenes in regular session, according to the American Association of Port Authorities.

“The revised substitute amendment gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) primary responsibility of setting standards for ballast water discharge, while the U.S. Coast Guard would regulate compliance including vessel equipment,” stated AAPA, which has backed a change in the law to provide for a uniform federal standard.

“EPA would work with the Coast Guard to review the standards every five years and revise if necessary.”

AAPA added that the agreement does not permit states to enforce different standards, but allows them to enforce the federal standard and charge fees.

“States may inspect commercial vessels to enforce VIDA if they have an agreement with the Coast Guard,” AAPA stated.

“In addition, a special process for the Great Lakes allows those states to develop enhanced Great Lakes-specific discharge standards and submit them to EPA and Coast Guard for approval.”

A vote is expected on an amendment to the legislative vehicle for reauthorizing the Coast Guard.

Users Board To Meet

The Inland Waterways Users Board is scheduled to meet November 29 in St. Charles, Mo.

Open to the public, the meeting will begin at 8 a.m. at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Hotel, 2 Convention Center Plaza, St. Charles, Mo. 63303.

Agenda items include updates on funding for inland navigation for fiscal year 2019, the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, construction activities for Olmsted Locks and Dam Project, the Locks and Dams 2, 3, and 4 on the Monongahela River Project, Chickamauga Lock Project, Kentucky Lock Project and the Colorado River Locks and Brazos River Floodgates Study.

 For additional information, contact Mark Pointon at 703-428-6438.

Invasive Species Committee

The Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) is scheduled to hold a teleconference meeting November 13 in Washington, D.C.

Members of the public who wish to attend the 1 p.m. meeting in the Kiowa Room, the U.S. Department of Interior, 1849 C St. NW, should call for preclearance at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.

Those who want to observe the meeting remotely can obtain the toll-free conference phone number and access code by calling 202-208-4122 or by visiting www.invasivespecies.gov.

The ISAC provides advice to the National Invasive Species Council, which provides national leadership on invasive species issues.

Identified as species that can impact infrastructure, dreissenid mussels such as the quagga mussel and zebra mussel can grow on a variety of man-made structures such as locks, dams and canal systems, impact operation and maintenance costs and leave infrastructure vulnerable to failure.

According to information provided by the Interior Department, they also can grow on navigational buoys, docks and hulls of boats and ships, increasing drag, affecting steering and clogging engine intakes, which can lead to engine malfunctions.

For additional information, contact Kelsey Brantley at 202-208-4122.

MACOSH Nominations Sought

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is requesting nominations for membership on the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (MACOSH).

Nominations must be by postmarked or transmitted by December 10.

MACOSH provides recommendations and advice to the Department of Labor and OSHA on policy issues pertaining to safe and healthful employment in the maritime industries, including ways to increase the effectiveness of safety and health standards that apply to the maritime industries, injury and illness prevention; the use of stakeholder partnerships to improve training and outreach initiatives; ways to increase the national dialogue on occupational safety and health; and enforcement initiatives to improve working conditions and the safety and health of workers in the maritime industries.

For additional information, contact Amy Wangdahl at 202-693-2066.