Washington, D.C.—After contacting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about funding dredging following historic flooding, U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) shared assurances the agency “is working to make sure dredging doesn’t stop.”
“This has been an incredibly difficult year for those who use the river to move goods to market,” Graves said in a written statement.
“It is critical that dredging continue unimpeded to ensure that the river remains open to traffic.”
He also called for the disaster funds approved by Congress to be distributed as soon as possible in order for those funds to be the most effective and keep the river open.
Graves serves as the ranking member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Corps.
According to Communications Director Bryan Nichols, the congressman received assurances the agency has found enough funding to continue dredging through the end of the month and will continue to work toward reallocating more funding.
Nichols said Graves contacted the Corps to ensure the agency was exhausting all funding possibilities to continue dredging after receiving a letter from the River Industry Executive Task Force.
In his written statement, Graves also echoed what he has said previously about prioritizing people and property over fish and birds.
“The 2019 floods serve as another stark reminder of this,” he said.
“The Corps of Engineers’ priorities must change, which is why I’ve introduced legislation to remove fish and wildlife as authorized management purposes on the Missouri River. Flood control and navigation must be the top priorities when managing the river.”
Alternative Security Program
According to The American Waterways Operators (AWO), the U.S. Coast Guard has approved a two-month extension of AWO’s current Alternative Security Program (ASP), which was scheduled to expire August 7.
“In order to allow sufficient time for the ASP review process of your submitted five-year renewal program, the commandant is allowing members of AWO, in good standing, to continue to operate under the currently approved ASP until October 7, 2019,” Cmdr. C.J. Bright, chief of the Cargo and Facilities Division, stated in a letter to Jennifer Carpenter, AWO’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Bright asked AWO to distribute the letter to its members who have implemented the commandant-approved ASP and directed questions to Betty McMenemy at 202-372-1122.
MERPAC To Meet
The Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC) and its working groups are scheduled to meet September 16–18 in Martinsburg, W.Va., to discuss issues related to the training and fitness of merchant marine personnel.
Open to the public, the meetings will begin at 1 p.m. on September 16 and 8 a.m. on both September 17 and September 18.
They will be held at the U.S. Coast Guard National Maritime Center, Dales Larson Room on the third floor, 100 Forbes Drive, Martinsburg, W.Va. 25404–0001.
For additional information, contact Davis Breyer at 202-372-1445.
Medical Advisory Committee
The Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee and its working groups are scheduled to meet September 10–11 in Galveston, Texas, to discuss matters relating to medical certification determinations for issuance of licenses, certificates of registry, and merchant mariners’ documents, medical standards and guidelines for the physical qualifications of operators of commercial vessels, medical examiner education and medical research.
Open to the public, the meetings will begin at 8 a.m. on both days.
They will be held in Room 201, Aggie Special Events Center, Texas A&M Maritime Academy, 200 Seawolf Parkway, Galveston, Texas 77554.
For additional information, contact Davis Breyer at 202-372-1445.
Liability Limits Increased
The Coast Guard issued a final rule increasing the limits of liability for vessels, deepwater ports and onshore facilities under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to reflect the significant increases in the Consumer Price Index since 2015, when the limits of liability were last adjusted.
“These regulatory inflation increases to the limits of liability are required by OPA 90 and are necessary to preserve the deterrent effect and ‘‘polluter pays’’ principle embodied in the act,” the Coast Guard stated in its Federal Register posting.
“This update promotes the Coast Guard’s missions of maritime safety and stewardship.”
The rule takes effect on November 12.
For additional information, contact Benjamin White at 202-795-6066.
Army Science Board
Functions of the Chief of Engineers Environmental Advisory Board, which is to be terminated on August 31, will be absorbed by a permanent subcommittee of the Army Science Board, according to the U.S. Army press office.
Public Affairs Specialist Heather Hagan said that action was ordered in a 2018 memo issued by then-Secretary of Army Mark Esper one month after an earlier memo by the Department of Defense Chief Manager Officer directing military departments to terminate at least half of their advisory committees.
That memo from Esper, who now serves as the Defense secretary, came nearly one year before President Donald Trump’s executive order directing agencies to terminate at least a third of their advisory committees by September 30.
Created in 1970, the Chief of Engineers Environmental Advisory Board has met once or twice a year to provide expert advice to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on environmental issues.
Great Lakes Pilotage
The Great Lakes Pilotage Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet September 12 in Port Huron, Mich., to discuss the status of committee member terms and appointments, current pilot workforce levels, proposal pilotage regulations and other matters.
Open to the public, the 8 a.m. meeting will be held at the Great Lakes Maritime Center, 51 Court St., Port Huron, Mich. 48060.
For additional information, contact Ellen Engleman Conners at 202-578-2815.
Bluewater Texas Terminal
The Maritime Administration (MarAd) announced the extension of a 30-day scoping process initiated in July as part of environmental review of the Bluewater Texas terminal deepwater port license application. The proposed terminal would be 15 nautical miles off the coast of San Patricio County, Texas.
“The extension is due to delays in getting the application properly posted to the federal docket,” MarAd explained in the Federal Register.
In its posting on July 3, MarAd also had requested comments from the public, which now must be received by August 30.
For additional information, contact Yvette Fields at 202-366-0926.