Friday, October 21, 2011

S 1665 Introduced – Coast Guard Authorization

Earlier this month (and just published this week by the GPO) Sen. Begich (D, AK) introduced S 1665, the Coast Guard Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013. Begich is the Chair of the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee which is why he gets the blame for this piece of weak legislation.

There is nothing in this bill that addresses chemical security or safety issues. In fact, the Coast Guard’s homeland security mission is completely ignored in this bill. For instance §101(a)(3) provides the following as a list of Coast Guard missions to be supported by R&D funding:

• Search and rescue;  
• Aids to navigation;
• Marine safety;
• Marine environmental protection;
• Enforcement of laws and treaties;
• Ice operations;
• Oceanographic research; and
• Defense readiness.

I suppose that the MTSA community should be happy that there are no new requirements added in this bill, but it does appear that the reason is not that the regulatory environment is completely covered but more because of a lack of attention.

1 comment:

Laurie Thomas said...

PJ, there are probably several reasons for the de-emphasis on the USCG homeland security mission. One might be that the framers forgot it but I hope not! Reason #2 may be - there has been a growing trend of unrest in USCG customers for non-security services, reflecting an idea that the homeland security mission has drawn dollars, personnel, and basic attention away from vital concerns such as timely processing of merchant marine credentials. ADM Papp's first guiding principle is to "Steady the Service" and that principle probably reflects this feedback and includes a balance among priorities, not security ahead of everything else. The third reason why there might be a lack of mention might be that MTSA 2 will be issued in the 2012-2013 time period and perhaps the framers don't want the type of legislative conflict we have seen in the past with these Acts and already existing legislation. (Just my two cents.)

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