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Washington Waves

House Committee Works To Kill WOTUS Definition

Washington, D.C.—The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced proposals to kill the Biden administration’s rule to redefine the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and to streamline the permitting process under the Clean Water Act’s Section 401.

HJR 27 and HR 1152 now go to the House for a floor vote.

Published in January, the Biden administration’s WOTUS rule is scheduled to take effect March 20.

In advancing the proposal to overturn the controversial rule, Republicans argued it was another example of regulatory overreach that would burden farmers, home builders and even everyday Americans with more uncertainty and litigation.

Critics of the new rule also have argued the administration should have waited until the U.S. Supreme Court announces its decision on a pending case involving WOTUS.

Democratic backers of the new rule continue to defend it as a way to provide a durable WOTUS definition after legal challenges marked the efforts of both the Obama and Trump administrations.

Republican sponsors of the bill to streamline Section 401 said the Clean Water Act has been abused by certain states to block interstate energy projects.

Corps Work Plan

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its work plan for fiscal year 2023 civil works appropriations that it says will boost capacity at the nation’s waterways and ports.

Michael Connor, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, said the plan also will build resilience to the impacts of climate change by reducing flood risks of communities and restoring aquatic environment and will promote equity in underserved communities consistent with President Joe Biden’s Justice40 initiative.

Connor said the plan will reach those goals by continuing the administration’s substantial investments in projects and actions that will strengthen supply chains.

Delivered to Congress, the plan will fund 1,325 studies and projects in all 50 states and three territories.

Port Security Grants

A Port Security Grant Program that provides $100 million was among those announced by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

With awards expected later this year, the noncompetitive Port Security Grant is to help protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism, enhance maritime domain awareness, improve port-wide maritime security risk management and maintain or re-establish maritime security mitigation protocols that support port recovery and resiliency capabilities.

Altogether the fiscal year 2023 preparedness grant programs announced by Mayorkas totaled more than $2 billion.

All the funding notices can be found at www.grants.gov.

MTS Advisory Committee

The U.S. Maritime Transportation System National Advisory Committee (MTSNAC) is scheduled to meet virtually March 22-23 to discuss advice and recommendations for the Department of Transportation on issues related to the marine transportation system.

Open to the public, meetings on both days are set to begin at 9 a.m. Eastern.

Requests to attend the meeting virtually must be received by 5 p.m. Eastern on March 13, and requests for accommodations due to a disability must be received by March 21.

Requests to speak or to have written materials reviewed during the meeting must be received by March 13.

For additional information or to submit any committee related request, contact Chad Dorsey at MTSNAC@dot.gov or 202-997-6205 or Maritime Transportation System National Advisory Committee, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, W21–307, Washington, D.C. 20590.

Mariners’ Contact Information

The Coast Guard Inspections and Compliance Directorate released Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 02-23 to advise mariners to keep their contact information up to date with key agencies to assist with eligibility issues with their Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).

Agencies specifically mentioned were the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the National Maritime Center (NMC).

“Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) applicants or holders who have had their Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) application denied or TWIC revoked as a result of a TSA Security Threat Assessment (STA) may pose a security threat and may have their MMC revoked,” the MSIB stated.

“Failure to obtain or remain eligible to hold a TWIC may serve as a basis for the denial of an MMC application or as a basis for suspension and revocation (S&R) action(s) against an MMC.”

For additional information, contact the TSA at 855-347-8371 or the NMC at 888-427-5662 or refer to the MSIB 02-23.

Lakes Pilotage Rates

The Coast Guard issued new Great Lakes base pilotage rates for the 2023 shipping season resulting in a 16 percent net increase in pilotage costs compared to the 2022 season.

In accordance with the Great Lakes Pilotage Act of 1960, the rule adjusts the pilotage rates to account for changes in district operating expenses, an increase in the number of pilots and anticipated inflation. It takes effect March 29.

To view documents available in the docket, go to www.regulations.gov and type USCG–2022– 0370 in the search box and click “Search.’’

In the Document Type column, select ‘‘Supporting & Related Material.’’

For additional information, contact Commandant Brian Rogers at 410-360-9260 or Brian.Rogers@uscg.mil.

Cargo Preference Act

The Maritime Administration (MarAd) issued a request for information from the public to assist it in assessing the processes used to implement the Cargo Preference Act of 1954, which directs the use of U.S.- flag vessels to transport certain amounts of civilian federal government agencies’ cargo.

Comments must be received by May 1. With Docket Number MARAD-2023-0039, the comments may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov or by Mail/Hand-Delivery/Courier at Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Room W12–140, Washington, DC 20590.