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Congress Sends Coast Guard Reauthorization to President’s Desk

Washington, DC – Former Chairmen and senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Congressman Don Young today issued the following statement on the passage of the Howard Coble Coast Guard Transportation Act of 2014, legislation that authorizes Coast Guard spending for one year and advances a number of important Alaskan causes, including a 3-year moratorium on overbearing EPA regulations facing fisherman and vessel owners, and improvements to the USCG lands and housing infrastructure.

“As Alaskans, we understand the critical role the Coast Guard plays in protecting our waterways and securing our coastlines,” said Congressman Don Young. “This legislation represents a firm commitment from Congress to strengthen and support the Coast Guard’s mission, which includes more than 2,500 active duty, reserve, and civilian personnel in Alaska. While it’s unfortunate the Senate could not agree to a permanent fix for our fisherman and small vessel owners ­– much like the one negotiated in the House – I was pleased with the inclusion of a 3-year moratorium on the EPA’s incidental discharge permit. I remain committed to seeing this issue through and providing the permanent relief and certainty these small business owners deserve."

The Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014 also includes language from Congressman Young that supports the economic development of unused USCG property in Women’s Bay, AK on Kodiak Island, which currently faces long-term lease restrictions.

“The short term lease limitations imposed on Coast Guard lands in locations like Womens Bay greatly hinder future development projects in communities that support our Coast Guard,” Congressman Don Young said.At a time when federal funds are scarce for infrastructure, we are letting regulations stand in the way of private development wanted by all parties. This legislation would add a small tool in the arsenal for the USCG by enabling the Commandant complete discretion on whether or not to lease submerged and tidal lands for a longer period of time."

Congressman Young supported the following provisions of Alaskan interest, which:

  • Support servicemember pay raises and provides more resources for Coast Guard housing.
  • Ensure servicemembers in certain fields have opportunity for career advancement by addressing long-standing barriers and regulatory impediments for Sea Service veterans seeking employment within the U.S.-flag merchant marine.
  • Require a determination on the feasibility of refurbishing the USCGC Polar Sea, and provides authorization for a service life extension for the vessel that currently sits in port out of service. 
  • Require the Coast Guard to provide Congress with a strategy to maintain icebreaking capabilities in the Polar Regions that includes an analysis of the cost effectiveness of acquiring or leasing new icebreaker assets.
  • Require regular reporting on the status of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Polar Code negotiations, including safety for ships operating in polar waters, and the impacts on coastal communities in regards to the costs of delivering freight and fuel, as well on the safety of maritime transportation.
  • At request of the Senate Majority, the bill reiterates currently existing authority for the construction of forward operating facilities in the Arctic.
  • Reauthorizes fishing vessel safety grants.
  • Provides an inflationary adjustment to the funding provided for the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council.

Click here for more information about the legislation.

 

 

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