Washington Waves
Washington Waves

House Still Without A Speaker

Washington, D.C.–A still-paralyzed House entered its third week without a speaker as Republicans twice put forward nominees who did not end up with the gavel.

After House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) dropped his bid, the Republican conference turned to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

Jordan lost 20 Republicans on the first floor vote and 22 on the second. Even on the vote that ousted him, then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) lost only eight Republicans.

Democrats, meanwhile, remained united behind Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

Legislative Priorities

President Joe Biden is expected to submit a significant package responding to the recent attack against Israel and continuing U.S. support for Ukraine. Republicans have made it clear they will insist that measure also includes provisions dealing with the situation on the southern border.

Both the House and the Senate must turn their attention to the appropriations process with the next government funding deadline less than a month away.

Port Modernization

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) urged swift adoption of an amendment by Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) to protect  and restore funding for the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP).

“The Feds have made a serious, laudable, bipartisan down payment on port infrastructure modernization with $1.45 billion awarded through PIDP so far,” AAPA President and CEO Cary Davis said. “Don’t stop now, Congress.”

Stauber’s amendment would reallocate $213 million to PIDP for a total of $287.7 million compared to the $69.7 million currently allocated in the House bill, according to AAPA.

Ballast Water Management

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requested comments on supplemental regulatory options for discharges from ballast tanks, hulls and niche areas and graywater systems.

EPA’s notice presents ballast water management system type-approval data it received since the 2020 proposal to protect U.S. waters from incidental discharges from vessels and target the spread of invasive species that occurs with normal operation of large marine vessels.

Comments must be submitted by December 18.

Identified by Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2019-0482, they may be submitted via www.regulations.gov, the preferred method, or by mail to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Docket Center, Office of Water Docket, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20460, or by hand at EPA Docket Center, WJC West Building, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004.

Those previously submitted on the 2020 proposed rule do not need to be resubmitted, EPA said.

“This supplemental notice will help EPA develop a stronger final rule to protect our nation’s aquatic resources as Congress intended when it passed the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act,” EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water Bruno Pigott said.

For additional information, contact Jack Faulk at 202-564-0768 or faulk.jack@epa.gov.

Cyber Risk Management

The Coast Guard’s Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance (CVC) announced an update to its Cyber Risk Management Work Instruction (CVC-WI-027) to assist the industry, mariners and others in applying statutory and regulatory requirements to ensure vessels do not pose a risk to the Marine Transportation System (MTS).

The latest version is available for review internally on the CVC Mission Management System (MMS) webpage and is also publicly available on CVC’s public MMS webpage.

For questions and comments, contact the Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance at CG-CVC@uscg.mil.

Milwaukee Cleanup

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an estimated $450 million agreement to fund the largest cleanup project to ever be implemented under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Legacy Act.

Under a new project agreement with five non-federal sponsors, EPA said the long-awaited cleanup will involve nearly 2 million cubic yards of contaminated sediments from the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said 610 Olympic-sized swimming pools of contaminated sediments will be cleaned up from Milwaukee Harbor and the three rivers in the urban Milwaukee area.

“We’re building on this progress to restore this economic engine with our partners in Wisconsin as we work to clean up the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern for good,” Regan said.

MSP, TSP Enrollment

The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MarAd) announced full enrollment for its Maritime Security Program (MSP) and Tanker Security Program (TSP) that support defense operations during armed conflicts and national emergencies.

Providing access to a fleet of U.S.-flagged sustainment sealift vessels and product tankers, MarAd stated, the programs strengthen the U.S. supply chain while creating good-paying jobs for mariners.

“In peacetime, our U.S.-flagged commercial fleet serves as a critical link in our supply chain; and in times of war and crisis, it supports military missions around the globe,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

Newly selected MSP vessels Liberty Power and Tulane operate under Liberty Global Logistics LLC of Lake Success, N.Y., and Fidelio Limited Partnership of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., respectively.

Pyxis Epsilon is the final product tanker selected for TSP and is under U.S. Marine Management LLC of Norfolk, VA.

“MSP has been a success story for the U.S. maritime industry for over 27 years,” MarAd Administrator Ann Phillips said.

“MSP, together with its sister program TSP, will support U.S. economic competitiveness globally and ensure U.S. armed forces have unquestioned logistics access anywhere in the world.”

Open Government Data Act

The Coast Guard is encouraging comments on making its data available to the public in support of rulemaking and the implementation of the Open Government Data Act.

“The Coast Guard anticipates that the online data and geospatial dashboard will empower the general public, affected entities and other interested parties to engage more effectively in Coast Guard rulemakings,” the Coast Guard stated in the September 21 Federal Register.

“We encourage you to submit comments describing what additional resources or data would help you participate in Coast Guard rulemakings.”

Comments must be submitted via www.regulations.gov by January 19 identified by docket number USCG–2023–0589. For additional information, contact Evan Morris at 571-608-6719 or Evan.Morris@uscg.mil.

Military To Maritime

The Coast Guard is accepting comments on a proposal to exempt certain active duty members of the uniformed services from Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) fees to help transition them into the Merchant Marine.

Comments must be received by January 2 under docket number USCG-2021-0288, preferably via www.regulations.gov or the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at www.reginfo.gov/public/ do/PRAMain.

For additional information, contact James Cavo at 202-372-1205 or James.D.Cavo@uscg.mil.

FMC Service Contract Inventory

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) announced the release of its fiscal year 2020 Service Contract Inventory Analysis.

The inventory includes scope, methodology, findings, actions taken or planned and accountable officials.

For additional information, contact Katona Bryan-Wade at 202-523-5900 or omsmaritime@fmc.gov.

To view the FMC’s Service Contract Inventory Analysis, go to the following link: www.fmc.gov/about-the-fmc/governmentwide-laws-regulations/service-contract-analysis/.

Hydro Incentives

The Department of Energy announced 66 hydro facilities throughout the U.S. will receive more than $38 million in incentive payments for electricity generated and sold.

Described as the agency’s largest single investment in the nation’s waterpower production, the incentive payments are to provide funding for electricity generated and sold from dams and other water infrastructure that add or expand hydroelectric power generating capabilities.

Fishing Safety Recommendations

The Coast Guard is requesting public comments on recommendations from the National Commercial Fishing Safety Advisory Committee to the secretary of Homeland Security.

Comments must be submitted by November 24.

Identified by docket number USCG-2023-0245, they may be submitted via www.regulations.gov.

The recommendations deal with falls overboard, personal flotation devices and definition of a skiff.

For additional information, contact Jonathan Wendland at 202-372-1245 or Jonathan.G.Wendland@uscg.mil.

OCS Casualty Reporting

The Coast Guard extended the comment period on proposed changes to reporting criteria for certain casualties on the outer continental shelf (OCS) and a proposed increase to the property dollar threshold triggering a casualty report for fixed facilities.

Public comments now must be submitted by November 13.

They may be submitted at www.regulations.gov and identified by docket number USCG-2013-1057.

The original notice was published June 14.

For additional information, contact Lt. Cmdr. Laura Fitzpatrick at 202-372-1032 or Laura.M.Fitzpatrick@uscg.mil.

Dam Safety

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it is accepting preliminary applications for a new $7.5 billion credit assistance program for dam safety projects.

Called the Corps Water Infrastructure Financing Program (CWIFP), the program is to accelerate non-federal investment in the nation’s dam infrastructure by providing low-cost, long-term flexible loans.

Congress appropriated $81 million to cover the subsidy cost of providing credit assistance, according to the Corps’ Notice of Funding Availability in the September 20 Federal Register.

A preliminary application submittal period ends at 11:59 p.m. Eastern on December 19.

Prospective borrowers should submit preliminary applications electronically under OMB Control Number 0710-0026 at https://CWIFPapp.usace.army.mil.

For additional information, contact Nathan Campbell at 651-219-2963 or nathan.j.campbell@usace.army.mil.