The American Waterways Operators (AWO) said it welcomes the inclusion of the Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (CVIDA) and the recapitalization of the aging fleet of inland waterway tenders as part of the FY 2018 Coast Guard Reauthorization Act, which was approved today by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation by voice vote.
CVIDA is bipartisan legislation that streamlines what is currently a broken regulatory system in which commercial vessels moving vital maritime commerce on U.S. waterways are subject to conflicting and duplicative vessel discharge regulations by two federal agencies and 25 states. Under CVIDA, regulations for ballast water and other discharges from commercial vessel operations are consolidated under the authority of the Coast Guard, in consultation with EPA.
AWO President & CEO Tom Allegretti commented, "The inclusion of CVIDA in today's mark-up of the Coast Guard Authorization Act is a critical milestone in the bipartisan effort to enact sensible vessel discharge regulatory reform that ensures the smooth functioning of interstate maritime commerce while maintaining high environmental standards, both of which are of great importance to the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry. AWO thanks Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL), as well as Senators Sullivan (R-AK), Wicker (R-MS), Casey (D-PA), Rubio (R-FL), and Schatz (D-HI) for their steadfast leadership on this issue. To reinforce Chairman Thune's comment today, we remain 'open for business' and committed to working with him and Sen. Nelson to broaden the base of bipartisan support for this legislation."
The authorization bill also includes a provision requiring the Coast Guard to submit a plan to Congress
to replace the aging tender fleet.
Allegretti said, "A modernized, robust fleet of Coast Guard inland waterway and river tenders is vital to the safety and efficiency of maritime commerce, a fundamental pillar of our national economy. AWO commends Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) for his recognition of the fleet's importance, and thanks him for his successful effort to include its revitalization in this year's Coast Guard Authorization Act."