The Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District (essentially the rivers draining into the Gulf of Mexico) published a notice in today’s Federal Register (78 FR 60216-60218) extending the stay on the reporting requirements for Restricted Navigation Area (RNA) reporting requirements of 33 CFR 165.830. Those reporting requirements pertained to barges carrying Certain Dangerous Cargoes (CDC). This continues the stay initiated in 2011 (76 FR 1360-1362) and renewed earlier this year.
The stay is necessary because the contract for the barge monitoring system that the reports being stayed by this notice fed into expired in 2011 and has not been renewed since. Since there is no mechanism to receive and process these reports, there does not seem to be any need to file them.
The notice reports that the Coast Guard has a potential alternative means of accomplishing the CDC barge tracking mission, the Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) program. Of course the last action taken on that program was taken in the publication of the notice of proposed rulemaking in 2008 (73 FR 76295). (Sarcasm Warning) Who needs to track barge shipments of dangerous chemicals any way? It's not like they are a potential terrorist target or anything.
Today’s action is a temporary final rule with no requirement for receiving and commenting upon public responses. It goes into effect midnight last night and it only covers the area of the Eighth Coast Guard District. I expect that we will see a similar notice being published by the Commander of the 9th (Great Lakes) Coast Guard District in the near future since their temporary stay of this regulation also expired last night.