Washington Waves
Washington Waves

AMP Boosts Domestic Maritime Industry

Washington, D.C.—Citing reports speculating on President Donald Trump’s support for the U.S. maritime industry, the American Maritime Partnership (AMP) released a statement in which AMP Chairman Matt Woodruff expressed confidence Trump “would not start us down a path now that would cripple our national security.”

 “The 650,000 Americans whose jobs depend on the domestic maritime industry would find it inconceivable that President Trump—who is committed to putting ‘America First,’ supporting U.S. jobs and manufacturing, and also just last month signed an executive order helping military veterans transition into the American maritime industry—would choose to favor foreign shipping interests over American workers,” Woodruff stated.

“American maritime is the quintessential ‘America First’ industry.”

AMP’s statement appeared to follow reports of a debate within the Trump administration on whether to waive the Jones Act for the movement of liquefied natural gas as requested by Puerto Rico.

The Cato Institute reported Trump is considering the waiver, an action it supports.

Infrastructure Meeting

Lawmakers are returning to the U.S. Capitol, ending a two-week break and facing a number of key issues important to the waterways industry.

One of the first must-watch events will be a meeting on infrastructure between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Donald Trump.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said the meeting will take place next week.

“The president wants a bipartisan infrastructure package that rebuilds crumbling infrastructure, invests in the projects and industries of tomorrow, and promotes permitting efficiency,” Deere said.

Pelosi continues to point to infrastructure as one of the Democrats’ top issues that can help bridge the partisan gap even while they insist the approach must be environmentally “green.”

Trump and Pelosi have talked about going big—at least a trillion-dollar package—but how to fund such an effort remains the big unknown.

Other issues the waterways industry is expected to track: Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund reform and how the fiscal year 2020 appropriations process will end up treating specific agencies such as the departments of transportation and homeland security, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.

MTS Advisory Committee

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the appointment of 29 members to the Maritime Transportation System National Advisory Committee (MTSNAC).

“This advisory committee will help strengthen and modernize our nation’s maritime capabilities, as we work to improve our waterborne transportation systems and our country’s gateway ports.” Chao said.

The members are:

Gary Adams of Walmart; Lindsey Brock, NE Florida Regional Transportation Commission; David Cicalese, International Longshoremen’s Association;  Berit Eriksson, Sailors’ Union of the Pacific;  David Fisher, Port of Beaumont, Texas; Joe Gasperov, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, John Graykowski, Maritime Industry Consultants;  Daniel Harmon, Texas Department of Transportation; Jared Henry, Hapag-Lloyd USA LLC; Capt. Robert Hughes, Genco Shipping & Trading Limited;  Jim Kruse, Texas A&M – Transportation Institute; Paul LaMarre III, Port of Monroe, Mich.; Griff Lynch, Georgia Ports Authority; Brian Jones, Nucor Corporation; James Pelliccio, Port Newark Container Terminal; Bryan Ross, Missouri Department of Transportation; Gene Seroka, Port of Los Angeles; Scott Sigman, Illinois Soybean Association; Karl Simon, Environmental Protection Agency; Sean Strawbridge, Port of Corpus Christi Authority; Anne Strauss-Weider, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority; Andrew Strosahl, The Lawrence Law Firm; Jack Sullivan, Matson Navigation Inc.; Capt. Richard Suttie, Center for Homeland Defense & Security; Augustin Tellez, Seafarers International Union of North America; Robert Wellner, Liberty Global Logistics LLC; Thomas Wetherald, General Dynamics-NASSCO; Lisa Wieland, Massachusetts Port Authority; and Brian Wright, Owensboro Riverport Authority.

Marine Highway Grants

The Maritime Administration awarded $6.7 million in grants for Marine Highway Projects in Connecticut, Louisiana and Virginia.

“These grants will expand the use of our country’s waterways, which are essential to our economic growth and vitality,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said.  

Projects receiving funding:

• Baton Rouge-New Orleans Shuttle on the M-55, $3,155,622, to support container-on-barge service at the ports of Baton Rouge and New Orleans (WJ, April 22);

• James River Expansion Project on the M-64, $1,822,093, to be used for construction of a third barge and expand the existing service to accommodate an estimated 27 percent annual growth on the M-64 corridor; and

• Harbor Harvest Long Island Sound Service, $1,812,285, to assist with its “Farm-to-Harbor-to-Market” service and provide waterborne transportation for Connecticut and Long Island farmers and manufacturers to create produce markets in both Connecticut and New York. Expanding use of Jones Act-supported vessels in the region, reducing shipping costs and increasing economic opportunities also were cited in the announcement.

Arctic Strategy

As the nation’s primary maritime presence in the polar regions, the U.S. Coast Guard hit two important milestones by releasing its new Arctic strategy and awarding a contract on the lead Polar Security Cutter (PSC).

“The Arctic Strategic Outlook reaffirms the Coast Guard’s commitment to American leadership in the region through partnership, unity of effort, and continuous innovation,” said Adm. Karl Schultz, Coast Guard commandant.

“We understand the significant investment required to secure the Arctic.”

Since the release of Arctic Strategy in 2013, the Coast Guard noted the resurgence of nation-state competition has coincided with dramatic changes in the physical environment of the region, which has elevated its prominence as a strategically competitive space.

Valued at $745.9 million, the PSC contract went to VT Halter Marine Inc., of Pascagoula, Miss., for the detail and design and construction of the first ship as well as options for two additional PSCs.

Exercising all options would boost the total contract value to $1.9 billion.

Construction on the first PSC is set to begin in 2021 with delivery planned for 2024; however, the contract includes financial incentives for earlier delivery.

“With the strong support of both the Trump administration and the United States Congress, this contract award marks an important step toward building the nation’s full complement of six polar icebreakers to meet the unique mission demands that have emerged from increased commerce, tourism, research, and international activities in the Arctic and Antarctic,” Schultz said. 

FMC Meeting Set

The Federal Maritime Commission has scheduled a meeting on May 1.

Set to begin at 10 a.m., the meeting, parts of which will be closed, will be held in the first floor hearing room, 800 N. Capitol St. NW, Washington, D.C.

It is also expected to be streamed live at https://bit.ly/2IZBIkY.

For additional information, contact Rachel Dickon at 202-523-5725.

Great Lakes Restoration

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its federal partners are seeking additional public input on developing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Action Plan III that will outline goals for the years 2020–2024.

Deadline for receiving input is May 24.

The draft plan and a link to provide input are available at: https://www.glri.us/action-plan-3.

In a separate announcement, EPA said it has awarded $1.65 million to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), the first installment of an approximately $5 million GLRI grant to WDNR.