COAST GUARD AND MARITIME TRANSPORTATION ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - September 15, 2005)
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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the manager's amendment to the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2005. The amendment includes some very important provision that were previously passed by this chamber in a bill called the Delaware River Protection Act. The Delaware River Protection Act was primarily authored and introduced earlier in the year by my esteemed colleague, Congressman Frank LoBiondo. I was pleased to be a cosponsor of that legislation and I am greatly pleased that the language is included in the manager's amendment. The language is part of a bipartisan effort to protect the ecologically and economically significant Delaware River waterway. In November 2004, the hull of the oil tanker, Athos, was torn open by a submerged object and spilled an estimated 265,000 gallons of oil into our river. The cleanup efforts have cost at least $167 million thus far and the impact to the wetlands will be felt for years to come. We must prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future, as it is an economic as well as an environmental imperative; the Delaware River must remain open to commercial traffic. The language in the Delaware River Protection Act, which will now be part of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act, is a strong step to secure this precious resource.
This language increases the liability limits on single-hull tankers under the Oil Pollution Act, thereby encouraging the adoption of more robust double-hull tankers. In addition, it requires mandatory reporting of objects that are lost overboard to the Coast Guard. There are also provisions to prepare for the contingency of another spill by updating the current response plan, establishing a committee to report to Congress on ways to improve oil spill response and prevention, and establishing a pilot project on the Delaware to test techniques to recover submerged oil. I commend Congressman LoBiondo for his diligent work on this important effort. I also thank my colleagues, Representatives Allyson Schwartz, Jim Saxton, and Mike Castle for their input and support.
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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the amendment offered by my esteemed colleague, Congressman MARKEY. His amendment seeks to protect the citizens of our cities and towns from the potential threat posed by liquefied natural gas, LNG, tankers traversing our waterways.
I fully grasp the need to import additional quantities of fuel, particularly natural gas. Our energy supplies are dwindling and have been further hampered by the recent events in the Gulf. However, I must question the haste of our efforts to import LNG without the proper planning to ensure the public's safety. As it stands now, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, has the preeminent authority in siting these LNG facilities. The recently passed Energy Bill even included a provision that usurped State's rights in the siting process. The problem here is that FERC is an agency concerned with energy policy, yet they have limited expertise in security and public safety. In the past, we could rely on individual States to make security decisions, but now that authority is in jeopardy.
The most prudent action we can take at this time to ensure the safety and security of our citizens is to bolster the power of the Coast Guard. While the Coast Guard is already involved in siting LNG facilities, this amendment offered by Congressman MARKEY would give the Coast Guard the specific direction they need to properly and thoroughly examine risks posed to the public.
There is no doubt that LNG will become an increasing part of our Nation's energy supply. Moreover, there will be some prospective sites that are suitable for LNG facilities and others that are not. I am not here to make a judgment on any specific sites. Rather, I want the professionals in the Coast Guard to do the security analysis. Our energy needs cannot take precedent over the safety of our citizens. Once again, I support Mr. MARKEY's amendment and I urge my colleagues to include it in the final bill.
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