WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on S. 140, the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 and with Alaska Congressman Don Young’s support, the bill will now go to the President’s desk for signature.
“The Coast Guard is a crucial branch of our military that protects and defends our waters and borders which we see in Alaska every day,” said Congressman Young. “The focus of this legislation is to improve how the Coast Guard operates nationwide and in Alaska this is especially important for Arctic operations and maritime commerce in our region. As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I was able to secure several provisions that will directly support the Coast Guard in Alaska as well as reducing regulatory burdens on both recreational boaters and fishing vessels. I’m proud of the tremendous work the brave men and women of the Coast Guard accomplish for this country and with the passage of this bill, I believe they will be better equipped for their future missions.”
Provisions Congressman Young Secured:
- Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) – After nearly 15 years of work, there will be a national standard for regulation of ballast water and other incidental discharges while also providing permanent exemption for commercial fishing vessels and commercial vessels under 75 feet from needing to obtain burdensome permits through the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Reauthorization of the Hydrographic Services Improvement Act which will improve hydrographic surveying, especially of the Arctic. Additionally, this will assist in the construction of a new homeport for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel Fairweather in Ketchikan.
- A fishery endorsement for the vessel Western Challenger to correct an issue from a previous Coast Guard Authorization.
Provisions of Interest for Alaska:
- Allows for more localized decision making in Alaskan waters by the Coast Guard in the approval of oil spill response plans and requires the Coast Guard verify the effectiveness of the alternate plans. The legislation also requires oil spill removal organizations identified in the vessel response plans conduct regular drills using their response resources.
- Directs the Coast Guard to conduct an enhanced maintenance project to extend the service life of the Polar Star icebreaker until the end of 2025.
- Authorizes Coast Guard use of multi-year contracts to begin procurement of three new National Security Cutters.
- Facilitates a land exchange on Kodiak Island to protect wildlife as well as open possibilities for economic development.
- Requires a report by the Coast Guard, in consultation with DoD, on progress toward implementing strategic objectives described in the United States Coast Guard Arctic Strategy from 2013.
The Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 is bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reauthorize, strengthen, and support the United States Coast Guard in its critical missions to save lives, safeguard our shores, protect living marine resources, and help ensure a 21st century maritime transportation system for America. The bill also reauthorizes the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and makes updates to the FMC’s authorities to better protect the U.S. maritime industry.