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Capital Report

2018:  MARCH

May 2017 Issue

Ocean Interest Groups
Concerned with Trump Budget

In response to the Donald Trump Administration’s budget blueprint for fiscal year 2018 (see budget feature story in this issue), the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI) expressed deep disappointment at proposed cuts to critical ocean and coastal programs at NOAA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NASA and the Department of the Interior. These programs are essential to the health and economic productivity of U.S. oceans, coasts and Great Lakes, said JOCI. The proposed elimination of more than $250 million in NOAA grants and programs will substantially impact coastal communities and ocean stakeholders.

Consortium for Ocean Leadership is troubled by Trump’s budget proposal cuts to federal Earth and ocean science and technology programs. Americans depend on the ocean for security, energy, food, jobs, transportation and more, but Trump’s budget does not prioritize the ocean, the consortium said.

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) is concerned over cuts for most federally funded, port-related programs in Trump’s budget. Adequate federal investments into U.S. port-related infrastructure are crucial for the efficient movement of goods so the U.S. can remain globally competitive, AAPA said.

Zukunft Addresses
State of the Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft delivered the 2017 State of the Coast Guard Address, emphasizing the service as a unique instrument of national security. Zukunft spoke of the Coast Guard’s past year and highlighted achievements, including working to deliver the first heavy icebreaker by 2023 and standing up the Arctic Coast Guard Forum with coast guards of eight Arctic Council nations. He also focused on the $4.5 trillion of economic activity on U.S. waterways, shore infrastructure, technology issues and budgetary concerns.

Amended Bill Supports
Weather Forecasting

The U.S. House passed the Senate Amendment to H.R. 353, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017. H.R. 353 empowers NOAA and the National Weather Service to develop robust new weather forecasting capabilities and partnerships to protect lives and property. The bill also reauthorizes tsunami program activities vital to protecting coastal communities.

Coalition Wants Congress
To Fight Asian Carp

Unlock Our Jobs (UOJ), a coalition of business and industry organizations supporting the U.S. economy through the advancement of environmentally friendly domestic maritime commerce, sent a letter to members of Congress urging funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to further support efforts by the state of Illinois to slow, stop and reverse the migration of Asian carp, an aquatic invasive species, through cost-effective measures.

GLRI has been working successfully with Illinois to develop strategies to control Asian carp, which has resulted in the removal of 5 million pounds of Asian carp from the Illinois River in the last five years, a 68 percent population decrease.

Keystone XL Approved
By Trump Administration

U.S. President Donald Trump has granted a permit for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, The Washington Post reported. The $8 billion project would span 1,200 mi., connecting Alberta, Canada’s massive tar sands crude with pipelines and refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

TransCanada, which has been trying to win approval for the pipeline for nearly 10 years, said the State Department has issued a construction permit for the project.

TransCanada will drop an arbitration claim it filed for $15 billion in damages under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump Rolls Back Obama
Climate, Energy Actions

An executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump will roll back executive actions under the Barack Obama Administration to address climate change and energy resource development. The order directly revokes or rescinds certain presidential and regulatory actions and directs the review and potential subsequent rescission or revision of other key programs and regulations administered by several agencies.

However, it does not fully uproot the underpinning of the federal government’s climate authority—the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 endangerment finding—or walk away from the international process to address climate change in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Implementation of the executive order will likely take significant time and be challenged in the courts, according to VanNess Feldman LLP.

Interior Might Repeal 2017
Royalty Valuation Rule

The U.S. Department of the Interior proposed repealing the 2017 Royalty Valuation Rule that would create a cloud of regulatory uncertainty and put at risk billions of dollars of federal oil and gas leases and jobs, NOIA said. Repealing the rule would enhance regulatory certainty and clarity, helping ensure the U.S. remains the global energy leader, according to NOIA.

IMCA Says Jones Act Modifications
Could Hurt Marine Deepwater Construction

The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) issued a report on the potential impact of the Jones Act proposals published by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) in January. The report analyzes the technical requirements of conducting various operations in deepwater cross-matched to the vessels active in the Gulf of Mexico. The results indicate the U.S. coastwise fleet, on its own, is unable to support activities in the deepwater market.

The marine construction industry has relied upon CBP rulings that permit a small market for foreign-flagged vessels engaged in specific niche activities other than transport.

2018:  MARCH

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