It's Time for a Towing Vessel Inspection Rule

By Tom Allegretti, President & CEO of the American Waterways Operators
Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Last month, I had the opportunity to testify before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation at a hearing that examined maritime regulations. In what must have been a change of pace for Subcommittee members, instead of detailing the regulatory burdens facing the tugboat, towboat and barge industry, I urged them to exercise their oversight responsibility to ensure expeditious publication of long-awaited U.S. Coast Guard regulations regarding towing vessel inspection.
Said very simply, we need to get the towing vessel inspection rule done, and done right, right away. These rules will advance our shared goals of improving safety, security and environmental stewardship and cap two decades of tremendous progress along the road to greater safety on our nation’s waterways.
We have waited much too long.  Congress directed the Coast Guard to undertake the towing vessel inspection rulemaking more than nine years ago, in the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004. Three years ago, frustrated by the slow pace of the rulemaking process, Congress set a statutory deadline of October 15, 2011, for issuance of a final rule – a deadline that passed nearly two years ago. Those facts alone create a cause for immediate action.
Equally compelling, however, is the opportunity that this rulemaking provides – an opportunity that we fail to seize each day that the rules continue on their slow course through the federal bureaucracy.  The towing vessel inspection rulemaking offers a historic chance to take safety in the tugboat, towboat and barge industry to a new level, not unlike the transformation of the oil transportation industry after the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. This rulemaking will raise safety standards throughout the tugboat, towboat and barge industry, incorporating and building on the safeguards that quality companies have already put in place and ensuring that all vessels achieve a minimum threshold of safety that is necessary to protect lives, the environment and property.
Further, the towing vessel inspection rules are the missing link in a journey of a continuous improvement that began more than 20 years ago. The Coast Guard, Congress, and our customers have all been active partners in that journey, encouraging and demanding that the industry strive daily to achieve the goal of zero harm to human life, to the environment, and to property as we transport the nation’s waterborne commerce. The journey has been marked by private sector leadership, including the AWO Responsible Carrier Program, the Coast Guard-AWO Safety Partnership, and rigorous customer vetting of companies and vessels, to name just a few examples. It has also been characterized by responsible public policymaking, from OPA 90 to the 2004 law that gave rise to this rulemaking to the inclusive and thoughtful process by which the Coast Guard has engaged stakeholders throughout the development of the towing vessel inspection rules.
That journey has produced meaningful results. A 2012 Coast Guard Report to Congress credited the combination of private and public sector initiatives with producing a dramatic decline in oil spills from tank barges. However, we have not yet achieved our goal of zero harm. The most important step that we can take – the critical missing link in the safety chain – is publication of the towing vessel inspection rule.
There should be no tradeoff between getting the rule done promptly, and getting it done right. The Coast Guard has had nearly two years to review public comments on the October 2011 notice of proposed rulemaking, and many of those comments echo very similar themes. There is a nine-year history of work by the congressionally authorized Towing Safety Advisory Committee and a strong public docket filled with the technical information the Coast Guard needs to finalize this rulemaking.  The regulated community is asking for this rule and bipartisan Members of Congress are calling for its publication.
We cannot afford further delays. We cannot afford to let sound public policy remain the victim of bureaucratic red tape. Two decades of progress are waiting to come to fruition. Now is the time to act.



(As published in the October 2013 edition of Marine News - www.marinelink.com)

Maritime Reporter January 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Environmental

Reftrade Upgrades Fleet Refrigeration Systems

Reftrade UK  has made an investment  to upgrade its fleet with environmentally friendly technology. The world’s first refrigeration system to use CO2 as a natural refrigerant,

Liberian Registry Launches Green Ship Initiative

“We have launched a new initiative to help shipowners improve their green credentials and meet other corporate social responsibilities," said Scott Bergeron, CEO

Shell Eyes Arctic Drilling this Summer

Oil major Shell wants to revive its Arctic oil drilling programme this year after a near two-year suspension, angering environmentalists who say the risk of an oil spill is too high.

Maritime Security

National Domestic Surveyor Accreditation in place

Domestic marine surveyors will now be accredited under a national system run by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). The Domestic Surveyor Accreditation

USCG Rescue 2 on Bahamian Island

Two stranded men are safe after the Coast Guard rescued them off an Island in the Bahamas Tuesday afternoon. Coast Guard 7th District watchstanders received

Cutlass Express 2015 Commences

Maritime forces from East Africa, South Africa, Europe, Indian Ocean nations, the United States and several international organizations began the fourth iteration

News

Baltic Sea Freight Index Falls to Lowest Level Since 1986

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, spiralled downwards to its lowest level in nearly three

Bill Proposed to Repay WWII Merchant Mariners

Congresswoman Janice Hahn (Calif.) and Congressman John Duncan Jr. (Tenn.) introduced the “Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act of 2015,” which would provide

Navigational Charts App Debuts at Ocean Business

An independent consultancy and software development company will launch a new web and PC based navigational charting app at Ocean Business 2015.   Norcom Technology

Barges

Port of Redwood City Sees Cargo Increase

The Port of Redwood City experienced a five percent increase in cargo movement across its docks for the first half of fiscal year 2014/2015 that ended December 31, 2015.

Study Examines Impacts of Inland Waterway Investment

The National Waterways Foundation (NWF) has commissioned and released a two-year study to examine the U.S. inland waterways’ national economic return on investment

Webinar to Demonstrate Barge Emissions Tool

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and SmartWay will host a webinar for barge carriers and other interested stakeholders to demonstrate Barge Tool,

Maritime Safety

Australia Gives Landing Craft to the Philippines

The Australian Government will gift two recently-decommissioned Landing Craft Heavy vessels, including a package of spare parts, to the Philippines Government,

National Domestic Surveyor Accreditation in place

Domestic marine surveyors will now be accredited under a national system run by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). The Domestic Surveyor Accreditation

Australian Tall Ship Rounds Cape Horn

The Royal Australian Navy operated Sail Training Ship Young Endeavour rounded Cape Horn on Australia Day, 36 days into a 12-month circumnavigation of the world.

Government Update

Bill Proposed to Repay WWII Merchant Mariners

Congresswoman Janice Hahn (Calif.) and Congressman John Duncan Jr. (Tenn.) introduced the “Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act of 2015,” which would provide

Dozens Missing off Bangladesh after Boat Sinks

About 40 illegal migrants heading from Bangladesh to Malaysia to look for work were missing on Thursday after their boat sank, police said. A steady stream of

Shell: UK Should Reduce North Sea Oil Tax

The British government should review a supplementary tax charge on North Sea oil producers as it has made the operation of some fields unrealistic, Shell Chief

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Salvage Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.3740 sec (3 req/sec)