Washington, D.C.—Coast Guard Commandant Linda Fagan, who has made workforce her highest priority, told a key House panel her service is facing a recruiting challenge.
Fagan blamed the impact of the pandemic, competition from a robust civilian job market and a lack of interest in military service among young people.
“In response, we must transform our personnel processes, policies and practices to recruit and retain the Coast Guard workforce that our nation requires,” the admiral told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
Despite the challenges, Fagan also shared “good news,” such as a 28 percent boost in the number of women serving at the critically important mid-grade leadership ranks since 2017 and the Coast Guard Academy class of 2026 that is 43 percent female and 37 percent underrepresented minorities.
Leading members of the House panel used their opening statements to lay out their own concerns about the ability of the Coast Guard to meet its workforce needs.
“The agency is currently operating with fewer workers than it needs, which impacts its ability to meet mission demands,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the chairman of the full House committee.
DeFazio listed the Coast Guard missions Americans rely on such as protecting their marine environment and supporting the free flow of goods.
Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), the subcommittee chairman who led the hearing on promoting a more resilient Coast Guard, pointed to the “chronic disinvestment” that has forced the service to do more with less.
Hazardous Materials Transport
The Department of Transportation promoted a final rule to harmonize U.S. laws with international standards on transporting hazardous materials, speed up the movement of goods and cut costs.
“Supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have touched nearly every sector of our economy,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.
“The change we are announcing today will help to streamline international shipping, untangle supply chains and reduce costs for Americans.”
An estimated $250 million in shipping costs over the next 10 years will be saved, the agency said.
DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which led the effort, develops and enforces regulations for the operation of the nation’s 3.3-million-mile pipeline transportation system and the nearly 1.2 million daily shipments of hazardous materials by land, sea and air.
MTSNAC To Meet
The U.S. Maritime Transportation System National Advisory Committee (MTSNAC) is scheduled to meet August 30–31 in Washington, D.C., to discuss recommendations to the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Open to the public, the meetings are set to begin at 9 a.m. EDT on both days at DOT’s Conference Center, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20590.
Requests to attend the meeting must be received no later than 5 p.m. EDT August 22, accommodations due to a disability must be received by August 29 and to speak must be submitted along with a written copy of remarks no later than August 22.
For additional information, contact Chad Dorsey at 202-997-6205 or MTSNAC@dot.gov.
Shipping Reform Act
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) posted an industry advisory stating that Vessel-Operating Common Carriers (VOCCs) are required to comply with demurrage or detention billing practices established by the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022.
“As previously advised to the trade, there is no phase-in period for this provision of law,” the FMC stated.
“The law, and its requirements, related to demurrage and detention charges, became effective June 16.
“VOCCs must come into compliance with all self-executing provisions in the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, specifically the requirements for demurrage and detention billing.”
The FMC stated it will pursue enforcement action against any conduct perceived to establish open-ended obligations or include coercive tactics circumventing the clear direction of Congress.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) should beef up its guidance for inspections of certain non-containerized cargo such as liquids, grains and other goods shipped in crates or pallets, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
“CBP officials say crated cargo is of particular concern because crates can hide contraband and may include additional barriers to examination,” the government’s watchdog agency stated.
“At the nine seaports we reviewed that process crated cargo, four subjected it to examination only if it had been flagged as at high risk of containing contraband.”
In 2020, non-containerized cargo accounted for about 32 percent of the $1.5 trillion total maritime cargo value, GAO stated.
GAO recommended that CBP identify additional actions that its personnel at seaports should take to address the identified risks of crated cargo and update national maritime cargo processing guidance to reflect the identified actions.
The Department of Homeland Security, CBP’s parent agency, concurred with these recommendations, GAO stated.
Boating Safety Committee
The National Boating Safety Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet August 30 virtually to discuss subcommittee recommendations and other matters relating to boating safety.
Open to the public, the meeting is set to begin at 1 p.m. EDT.
To ensure comments are received before the virtual meeting, they should be submitted by August 23 at www.regulations.gov.
For additional information on joining the virtual meeting or to request special accommodations, contact Jeff Decker at 202-372-1507 or NBSAC@uscg.mil no later than 1 p.m. August 23 and as soon as possible for special accommodations.
The number of virtual lines will be limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Harmful Algal Blooms
A key House subcommittee sponsored a roundtable on harmful algal blooms (HABs), hoping to address address toxic outbreaks “once and for all” as states across the nation deal with climate change.
“They are seeing these blooms far more frequently,” said Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) led the roundtable at Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey, which was closed for much of the summer of 2019 due to HABs.
Both Malinowski and Napolitano cited efforts in Congress to address HABs, including funding for states and a 2020 provision directing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create a program to detect, prevent and eliminate HABs.