Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Key House Committee Voted Overwhelmingly

Washington, D.C.—A key House committee voted overwhelmingly to advance its version of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2024 that authorizes 160 new feasibility studies for locally proposed projects and 12 projects already reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

By a vote of 61 to 2, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent H.R. 8812 to a floor vote.

Bipartisan leaders of the panel promoted provisions that reauthorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Dam Safety Program through 2028 and make changes to strengthen the High Hazard Potential Dam Program, including requiring the maintenance of dams and the establishment of appropriate floodplain management plans.

They said the bill makes common-sense Corps reforms that empower non-federal project sponsors, increase project transparency and improve project delivery.

Leaders said the bill will strengthen existing alternative delivery processes and create similar alternative delivery methods within the continuing authorities program (CAP) for smaller projects and require the Corps to track National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents for water resource projects through their online permitting dashboard.

A new initiative will be created to assist non-federal interests in accessing resources at the Corps to aid in the study and construction of new projects.

In May, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted unanimously to advance its version of WRDA 24 to a floor vote in that chamber.

That puts both houses of Congress on track to maintain the bipartisan record of passing biennial WRDA legislation since 2014.

NMC Backlog

The National Maritime Center (NMC) announced it is experiencing a backlog of medical certificate applications. Thus, NMC recommends applications be submitted 90 days in advance of the expiration of current medical certificates.

“Sending multiple emails for individual pages of the application or sending the same information multiple times only causes delays in processing for other mariners and will significantly delay the processing of your information,” the NMC stated. “As a reminder, only COMPLETE medical applications are accepted for processing. Incomplete applications are returned to the mariner for correction and must be resubmitted, which delays the processing of your medical certificate application.”

For additional assistance, the NMC suggested applicants view information on its website at  www.dco.uscg.mil/nmc/medical_certificate.

Whale Policy

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has urged the Biden Administration to craft a more balanced policy outcome toward preserving the North Atlantic Right Whale, citing impacts on the maritime industry and mariner safety posed by pending vessel speed restrictions.

AAPA and representatives of East Coast ports met recently with the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on the vessel speed restrictions that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed.

“As currently proposed, NOAA’s vessel speed restriction rule places the safety of mariners and the surrounding ecosystem beneath the North Atlantic Right Whale,” AAPA CEO and President Cary Davis stated. “Though America’s ports and maritime industry support responsible and reasonable efforts to preserve the species, we call on the Biden administration to heed the consistent warnings of Congress and industry to craft a wiser and more balanced policy outcome.”

AAPA pointed out the coalition urging caution on the vessel speed restriction rule includes Democratic Reps. Mary Peltola of Alaska, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Henry Cuellar of Texas and Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania.

AAPA also cited language included in the House version of the Homeland Security appropriations bill prohibiting federal funds from being used to implement or enforce NARW vessel speed restriction rules.

NOAA Tide, Current Stats

The National Maritime Center (NMC) announced that on July 1, 2025, the Coast Guard will begin incorporating use of NOAA’s electronic tide and current information into national deck officer examinations using paper reproductions of NOAA website information.

Questions incorporating NOAA electronic tide and current information will be included in the sample examinations published on the NMC website in September.

Maritime training providers should consider updating instructional materials accordingly.

Training providers also are reminded that the Standards of Training and Certification of Watchkeeping (STCW) still require mariners to have a thorough knowledge of and ability to use nautical charts and publications.

For questions, contact the NMC Customer Service Center by using the NMC online chat system, emailing IASKNMC@uscg.mil or by calling 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662).