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Capital Report

2018:  MARCH

July 2017 Issue

Potential Access to Federal Funds
For Toxic Algal Blooms

A U.S. senate panel approved legislation that, for the first time, could open the door to federal assistance for states and local communities hard hit by toxic algal blooms. The measure, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), unanimously cleared the Senate Commerce Committee on a voice vote.

Last summer, a massive, toxic bloom began in Lake Okeechobee, spreading to the Indian River Lagoon, Caloosahatchee River and the coastline, causing widespread and severe environmental and economic damage.

The legislation would give the heads of NOAA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to declare a severe harmful algal bloom or hypoxic event as nationally significant, triggering access to federal resources.

The legislation also authorizes the use of $110 million over a five-year period for research into the causes and control of large algal blooms and hypoxia.

The legislation now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

US Coast Guard Authorization
Approved by Committee

The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has approved the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017. It authorizes the Coast Guard for two years to support the service’s missions, help replace and modernize the Coast Guard’s aging assets in a cost-effective and efficient manner, enhance oversight, and reduce inefficiencies.

The legislation also addresses the maritime transportation system, an essential component of the U.S. economy and instrumental to national security.

Each year, the U.S. maritime industry accounts for more than $100 billion in economic output.

Trump Gives More Details
On FY 2018 Budget

In the May 2017 issue, Sea Technology brought you the annual budget overview for the upcoming fiscal year for the U.S. government, which was based on U.S. President Donald Trump’s budget blueprint for fiscal year (FY) 2018, dubbed Trump’s “Skinny Budget.” Trump has since released his full budget.

The full FY 2018 budget proposes $204.9 million for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), a $600,000 increase above the FY 2017 CR level. This includes $112.0 million in current appropriations and $92.9 million in revenue from rental receipts, cost recoveries and inspection fees.

Trump proposed $922.2 million for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). This reflects a savings of $137.8 million in appropriated funds from the FY 2017 CR baseline, USGS said. The budget request for the USGS Energy and Minerals Resources Mission Area is $74.4 million. The request for the Natural Hazards Mission Area is $118.1 million. The request for the Core Science Systems Mission Area is $93.0 million. The request for the Ecosystems Mission Area is $132.1 million to support ecosystem research, health, development and monitoring. The request for the Water Resources Mission Area is $173.0 million.

Trump proposed $171 million for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

STEM Opportunities Act
Introduced in US House and Senate

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) introduced H.R. 2653, the STEM Opportunities Act of 2017. The legislation is similar to legislation she has introduced several Congresses in a row.

“The need for full engagement in STEM by women and under-represented minorities goes beyond enabling individuals to fulfill their dreams of becoming a scientist,” Johnson said.

“Our economic future relies on what we do now to nurture the STEM talent that will be necessary to meet the demands of an increasingly technological and knowledge-based economy.”

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced a companion bill to the STEM Opportunities Act in the Senate. The legislation would require federal agencies that fund scientific research to collect more comprehensive demographic data on the recipients of federal research awards and on STEM faculty at U.S. universities (while protecting individuals’ privacy). The data are intended to help policy makers design more effective policies and practices to reduce STEM barriers.

BSEE Regulation Extends Time
To Handle Business on OCS

A final regulation by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) doubles the amount of time offshore oil and gas operators will have to coordinate development operations and retain their leases in federal waters of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), extending the time from 180 days to one year between production, drilling or well-reworking operations on a lease.

These additional months are meant to give companies doing business on the Outer Continental Shelf more planning flexibility.

Trump Wants to Fund Infrastructure Projects,
Including Bridges and Waterways

U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to create a “first-class” system of roads, bridges and waterways, proposing $200 billion in public funds to generate $1 trillion in investment to pay for construction projects, The Maritime Executive reported.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), inland waterways deliver more than 575 million tons of cargo, valued at $229 billion. They also support more than 270,000 jobs and $30.9 billion in economic activity.

According to the ASCE, most of the locks and dams needed to travel the internal waterways are past their 50-year life span, and almost 50 percent of voyages suffered delays.

Trump said the U.S. inland waterway system requires $8.7 billion in maintenance.

He said he will spur growth and investment in infrastructure by dramatically reducing permitting time for projects from 10 years to two years and slashing regulations to speed up the decision-making process.

2018:  MARCH

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