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Capital Report


January 2013 Issue

US Coast Guard Not Ready to Invest In Shoreside Arctic Infrastructure
Due to lack of funding and a tough fiscal climate in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Coast Guard does not expect to invest in shoreside Arctic infrastructure in the near future, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp said in December.

The Coast Guard has “no organic land infrastructure” existing in the Arctic and is “locally insufficient” in icebreakers, Adm. Papp added.

The icebreaker Polar Star is being refurbished for next year, while the Polar Sea is being dismantled to be used for parts, Papp said. The Coast Guard has requested $8 million in fiscal year 2013 to begin constructing a new icebreaker.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill in December that would prevent the Coast Guard from transferring or recycling the Polar Star or Polar Sea. The bill, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2012 (H.R. 2838), which funds the service at $8.6 billion in fiscal year 2013 and $8.7 billion in 2014, went to President Barack Obama for signature.

When asked about sequestration’s effects on the Coast Guard’s budget and eight cutters, Papp said the service was evaluating different scenarios as it waited to see what develops, calling the looming cuts “amorphous.”

The Coast Guard needs better communications in the Arctic, Adm. Papp said. Future infrastructure and technology requirements will be addressed in the service’s forthcoming Arctic strategy. As a substitute for shoreside facilities, a large cutter with worldwide command and control communications is positioned in the region.

After struggling with its identity over the past few years and trying to avoid overlap with the U.S. Navy, the Coast Guard has moved its focus to maritime governance. Papp said he didn’t want the Coast Guard to be another Navy—it must be a standalone service focusing on proper training and regulation enforcement.

In addition to preserving the polar icebreakers, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2012 reauthorized the Maritime Administration for fiscal year 2013, as well as NOAA programs to reduce marine debris. The requirement for maritime workers to make multiple trips to a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) center to receive the TWIC ID card was eliminated by the act.

Hawaiian Senator Daniel Inouye Passes Away
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, passed away from respiratory complications in December.

Inouye, widely recognized as a champion for ocean policy, is also credited with helping build and shape Hawaii during his eight decades of public service, which began when he enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 17.

Following statehood in 1959, Inouye served as Hawaii’s first congressman. He ran for the Senate in 1962, where he served for nearly nine consecutive terms.

He established the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, sponsored and passed the Marine Debris Act (as well as its most recent reauthorization), and pushed through reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management Act, which set hard deadlines for ending overfishing. He also sponsored legislation to create and reauthorize the Coral Reef Conservation Act.

He was a co-sponsor of the National Endowment for the Oceans and was one of the founding members of the Senate Oceans Caucus.

NRF Calls on President Obama to Intervene To Prevent Port Strike
In the face of negotiation breakdowns in U.S. port disputes, the National Retail Federation (NRF) in December called on President Barack Obama to engage in the talks.

The strike stems from a breakdown of contract negotiations between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance. It involves about 14,500 workers, according to CNN.

The NRF suggested Obama implement the Taft-Hartley Act, a law regulating relationships between workers and employers that checks the powers and activities of labor unions.

Regional Planning Body Meets to Develop The First US Regional Ocean Plan
The Northeast Regional Planning Body (NERPB), established by the U.S. National Ocean Policy, held its inaugural meeting in November, representing the first time a regional planning body has convened in the U.S.

At the meeting in Portland, Maine, the NERPB established an executive secretariat with new state and interim tribal co-leads and identified its next steps. The NERPB recognized the need to adopt a common vocabulary.

The NERPB will next develop a charter and continue the first phase of the capacity assessment process, focused on federal agencies. The executive secretariat will develop options regarding local government representation.

The second meeting will be held in Rhode Island in late March or early April.

Hurricane Sandy Bill Would Dole Out Emergency Funds to US Government Agencies
In response to the damages caused by Superstorm Sandy, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee in December introduced the Sandy Emergency Supplemental bill, which includes $60.4 billion in discretionary spending.

The bill would grant NOAA $482 million: $6.2 million to repair and replace damaged ocean-observing and coastal-monitoring technologies; $10 million to repair weather-forecasting capabilities and infrastructure; $150 million to evaluate, stabilize and restore coastal ecosystems; $56.8 million for mapping, charting, damage assessment, and marine debris coordination and remediation; and $150 million for necessary expenses related to fishery disasters.

NOAA would also receive $47 million for its Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program, $9 million for facility repairs, $44.5 million for hurricane reconnaissance aircraft, and $8.5 million to improve weather-forecasting equipment and supercomputer infrastructure.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would receive $50 million, provided that $29.5 million expedites flood and storm damage reduction studies in the agency’s North Atlantic division. The U.S. Navy would receive $40 million for operation and maintenance-related repairs. The U.S. Coast Guard would get $274 million.


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