To U.S. leaders of the Propeller Club–Port officers and International Board members:
After being caught up in unrelated legislative wrangling last week, the U.S. Senate is again poised to act this week on S.2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act. For U.S. maritime interests, several potential amendments to this bill are of significant interest.
To the positive, S.2012 may be the vehicle for language to clarify the regulation of incidental discharges (such as rainwater runoff) from commercial vessels. Such matters are now governed by a regulatory patchwork that varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction–each standard different and many unachievable with current technology. The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act amendment (VIDA), would replace those assorted regulations with a single national standard. It has bipartisan support, and will likely pass if brought up for a vote.
To the negative, we expect Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to again offer an amendment to repeal portions of the Jones Act, the law which governs domestic maritime policy in the U.S. The Jones Act generally requires the use of U.S.-built and crewed vessels for carriage of goods between U.S. ports. By requiring that vessels operating in domestic waters be U.S.-flagged, the Jones Act helps ensure that mariners abide by our safety and environmental standards, helps maintain the nation’s shipbuilding capacity, and helps create well-paying American jobs.
You may want to take the opportunity today to let your Senators know of your position on VIDA and that the VIDA amendment needs time to be considered for adoption into the bill. In particular, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, needs to be encouraged by Senate colleagues to bring the amendment to the floor, so you might include that in your message.
In addition, you may want to let your Senators know that you oppose the repeal as proposed by Sen. McCain of Jones Act requirements for domestic commerce, because of the negative effect those changes would have on American jobs, the economy and national security.
These are important matters for domestic maritime industry. Please consider making your voices heard on the industry’s behalf.
Executive Vice President