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Capital Report

2015:  JAN | FEB

February 2015 Issue

Navy League Says Repeal of Jones Act Would ‘Gut’ US Shipbuilding
The Navy League of the United States announced its opposition to the McCain Amendment to S. 1, arguing it would gut the U.S. shipbuilding industry by striking the U.S. build requirement provisions of the Jones Act.

The Jones Act requires vessels in domestic waterborne trade to be owned by U.S. citizens, built in the United States and crewed by U.S. mariners. These provisions keep American shipping companies, shipyards, mariners, maritime academies and thousands of people working, the Navy League said. It is a critical component to the long-term sustainability of the U.S. fleet and the health of the U.S. shipbuilding industry.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, “I have long advocated for a full repeal of the Jones Act, an antiquated law that has for too long hindered free trade, made U.S. industry less competitive and raised prices for American consumers.”

McCain said his amendment “would eliminate this unnecessary, protectionist restriction.”

“According to the Congressional Research Service, it costs $6 per barrel to move crude from the Gulf Coast to the northeast United States on a Jones Act tanker, while a foreign-flag tanker can take that same crude to a refinery in Canada for $2 per barrel—taking money directly out of the pockets of American consumers,” McCain said.

Keystone XL Bill Passes US House, Eventually Passes Senate
After months of campaigning last year on the promise to move forward on Keystone legislation, new U.S. Republican House and Senate leadership put to vote bills to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, NOIA reported.

The House passed its legislation on a bipartisan vote of 266-153. This is the 10th time the U.S. House has voted to move forward on the project.

The Senate’s previous vote on Keystone resulted in a narrow margin against construction of the pipeline, AFP reported. Only one more vote was needed to pass the bill. Republicans responded with defiance, saying the legislation will make it through early this year, buoyed by their party’s control of the new Senate. They eventually got what they wanted: The Senate passed a bill in January approving Keystone by a 62-36 vote, the BBC reported.

President Barack Obama will likely veto the bill, which could be overridden by two-thirds vote per Congressional chamber.

Windstorm and Tsunami Acts Pass US House
The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 23, the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization; and H.R. 34, the Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act, with strong bipartisan support.

H.R. 23 reauthorizes the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP). The bill passed by a vote of 381-39.

“I was born and raised in South Florida and I am a survivor of Hurricane Andrew, so I have seen my share of severe weather and I know first-hand that natural hazards are a leading threat to American lives and America’s economy,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), an original co-sponsor of the bill. “While we cannot stop a hurricane or tornado from happening, this Congress can act to make sure our communities have the tools they need to respond to and recover from these disasters.”

H.R. 34 reauthorizes and strengthens the tsunami detection, forecast, warning, research and mitigation program of NOAA.

“In the 10 years since tragedy struck the Indian Ocean region, we have made significant strides in our understanding of how to prepare for, mitigate and respond to a tsunami,” said Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.).

“I have no doubt that the progress we have made, in large part through NOAA’s efforts under the Tsunami Warning and Education Act, has enhanced the safety of our communities and will save lives. But this good work must be continued, and this bipartisan bill will ensure the ongoing protection of our coastal communities from the impacts of tsunami events,” said Bonamici of her legislation.

US FMCS to Mediate ILWU, PMA Negotiations
In response to a joint request for assistance from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), collective bargaining between ILWU and PMA representatives will continue as soon as possible under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).

Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, a senior FMCS mediator with extensive collective bargaining experience in this industry, has been assigned to help the parties bring these negotiations to a mutually acceptable resolution.

The FMCS is not releasing information regarding future meeting dates and locations, and has no further comment at this time regarding the status or substance of the negotiations.

Bristol Bay Now Off Limits To Oil and Gas Leasing
President Obama has designated the pristine waters of Bristol Bay off limits to consideration for oil and gas leasing. This action safeguards one of the nation’s most productive fisheries and preserves an ecologically rich area of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska that is vital to the commercial fishing and tourism economy and to Alaska Native communities, the White House said

Bristol Bay helps provide 40 percent of America’s wild-caught seafood and support a $2 billion annual fishing industry. The beautiful and remote area is also an economic engine for tourism in Alaska, driving $100 million in recreational fishing and tourism activity every year. Bristol Bay hosts the largest runs of wild sockeye salmon in the world.

The decision to withdraw the area from all future oil and gas leasing extends indefinitely a temporary withdrawal that President Obama issued in 2010 and was set to expire in 2017. This action builds on decades of local efforts to protect Bristol Bay from oil and gas development by Alaska Native tribes and organizations, as well as local seafood and tourism businesses that create jobs and strengthen Alaska and the nation’s economy, the White House said.

2015:  JAN | FEB

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