In testimony before Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Tom Allegretti, President & CEO of The American Waterways Operators, urged Congress to push for the expeditious publication of U.S. Coast Guard regulations on towing vessel inspections, also known as Subchapter M.
Noting that Congress directed the Coast Guard to undertake this rulemaking more than nine years ago and that the deadline for issuing a final rule has long passed, Mr. Allegretti stated, “We need to get the towing vessel inspection rule done, and done right, right away to advance our shared goals of improving safety, security and environmental stewardship.”
Mr. Allegretti detailed for Subcommittee members milestones in the long history of cooperation between Congress, the Coast Guard and the tugboat, towboat and barge industry, specifically mentioning the many positive accomplishments that have occurred over the past two decades to improve vessel safety.
“For more than 20 years, we have been engaged on a journey of continuous improvement. The Coast Guard, Congress and our industry’s shipper-customers have been active partners, demanding that we 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.”
“That journey has produced meaningful results, but we have not yet achieved our goal of zero harm,” Mr. Allegretti continued. “The critical missing link is publication of the towing vessel inspection rule which will raise industry safety standards by building on the safeguards that quality companies have already put in place and ensuring that all vessels achieve a minimum safety threshold necessary to protect lives, the environment and property.”
“We understand that the federal rulemaking process takes time,” Mr. Allegretti added. “But, we very frustrated that this congressionally mandated rulemaking has taken so long, and that there is no clear end in sight. We are especially frustrated because the benefits of action are so great, the consequences of inaction are so severe, and our industry is asking to be regulated.”