Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Coast Guard Considering Shipping Fairways Along Atlantic Coast

Washington, D.C.—The Coast Guard is seeking public comments on its proposal to establish shipping safety fairways along the Atlantic Coast of the United States.

“Fairways would preserve the safe and reliable transit of vessels along well-established traffic patterns and routes,” the Coast Guard stated, citing the increased interest in offshore commercial development such as renewable energy installations. “While vessels are not required to use them, fairways are designed to keep traditional navigation routes free from fixed structures that could impact navigation safety and impede other shared offshore activities.”

In addition, the Coast Guard said it is also proposing to establish traffic separation schemes and precautionary areas along the Atlantic Coast to further improve navigation safety.

Comments and related material must be received by April 18 and may be submitted via docket number USCG–2019–0279 at www.regulations.gov.

In a separate Federal Register notice, the Coast Guard announced its intention to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) to evaluate the potential environmental consequences of establishing the shipping safety fairways and other routing measures.

The Coast Guard has scheduled three in-person meetings and one virtual scoping public meeting to provide additional information to the public and to solicit input on potential issues, concerns and reasonable alternatives that should be considered in the PEIS.

Comments must be submitted at one of the public meetings or in writing to the online docket via www.regulations.gov by March 8, identified by docket number USCG– 2023–0928.

The in-person meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. January 31 at White’s of Westport, 66 State Road, Westport, Mass.; 6 p.m. February 7 at the Georgia Southern University, Armstrong Campus Student Union, Ogeechee Theatre, 11935 Abercorn St., Savannah, Ga.; and 5 p.m. February12 at the Jordan Newby Branch at Broad Creek of the Norfolk Public Library, 1425 Norchester Ave., Norfolk, Va. 23504.

A fourth meeting will be held virtually at 4 p.m. Eastern on February 15at www.zoomgov.com/j/1616731053, Meeting ID: 161 673 1053, or by telephone toll free at 833-568-8864.

The public is encouraged to pre-register for these meetings using www.zoomgov.com/meeting/register/vJIscuGopz0sHYZCW1ycTGmfycGxN5CCF7k.

For additional information, contact Maureen Kallgren at 202-372-1561 or Maureen.R.Kallgren@uscg.mil.

Stopgap Funding Bill

President Joe Biden signed into law another stopgap measure to avoid a government shutdown and keep federal agencies funded through two deadlines in early March.

Approved earlier by both houses of Congress, H.R. 2872 also gives appropriators extra time to complete the drafting the 12 annual spending bills for fiscal year 2024, which began nearly four months ago on October 1.

It extends funding for energy and water programs, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and transportation programs, including the Maritime Administration, through March 1.

Funding for other federal programs runs through March 8.

A continuing resolution (CR) keeps agencies running on last year’s appropriations and unable to make crucial changes to important programs.

Both chambers of Congress easily approved the bill with bipartisan roll calls of 77 to 18 in the Senate and 314 to 108 in the House.

That division in the House may not bode well for Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) when it comes to passing the 12 annual appropriations bills.

His fellow Republicans were almost evenly split—107 to 106—on passing the CR to avoid a partial government shutdown as was his leadership team.

IMO Pollution Subcommittee

The Department of State is scheduled to conduct a public meeting virtually on February 6 to prepare for the 11th session of the IMO Subcommittee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR 11) in London on February 19-23.

Set to begin at 1 p.m. EST, the meeting will be available to the public up to the capacity of the Microsoft Teams line.

Participants can RSVP to Nichole Schindler at 202-372-1403, Nicole.M.Schindler@uscg.mil or in writing at United States Coast Guard (CG–OES), ATTN: Ms. Nicole M. Schindler, 2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, Stop 7509, Washington D.C. 20593–7509, no later than February 1.

Additional information regarding IMO public meetings may be found at www.dco.uscg.mil/IMO.

Red Sea Shipping

Seaport, shipping and retail stakeholders warned Department of Transportation (DOT) officials that continued disruptions from the attacks in the Red Sea would worsen impacts on supply chains.

According to a DOT readout of a call with the stakeholders, the Maritime Administration provided an update about its ongoing coordination with interagency partners, including the Department of Defense, about disruptions in the Red Sea and discussed the interagency process to disseminate maritime alerts and advisories through the U.S. Maritime Advisory System.

The Federal Maritime Commission also updated stakeholders about a public hearing scheduled on February 7 and, if needed, February 8, to discuss impacts the Rea Sea disruptions are having on maritime commerce and invited stakeholders to participate.

Smith Point

The Coast Guard announced its intention to have the Smith Point Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) removed from nautical charts and from the U.S. Coast Pilot.

The TSS is a vessel traffic routing measure which lies on inland waters at the mouth of the Potomac River, just south of the Maryland/Virginia border.

“We will also change the buoy which identifies the TSS from a special purpose lighted yellow buoy to a red and white striped lighted mid-channel buoy,” the Coast Guard said.

For additional information, contact Matthew Creelman at 757-398-6230 or Matthew.K.Creelman2@uscg.mil.