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Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2005 - 2

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Location: Washington, DC


COAST GUARD AND MARITIME TRANSPORTATION ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - September 15, 2005)

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Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I rise to engage in a colloquy with the gentleman from New Jersey (Chairman LOBIONDO).

Mr. Chairman, as the gentleman from New Jersey is aware, Congress in 2002 during the last reauthorization of Coast Guard activities enacted into law authorization for the Coast Guard to transfer a parcel of land at Point Pinos, California, to the City of Pacific Grove. Over the last 3 years, the city has worked with the Coast Guard to finalize the arrangements, but the land has yet to be transferred. The delay has frustrated city officials, prevented the reuse of the land, and burdened the Coast Guard with maintenance and security of a facility they no longer need.

Mr. Chairman, I would ask the chairman if he is aware of the problem and whether anything can be done to expedite the closure to this issue and the transfer of the property.

Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. FARR. I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.

Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for rising on this matter. I am perplexed as to why this transfer has not yet occurred and concerned that it has not yet occurred.

I have been told that the Department of Homeland Security needs to delegate the land transfer authority to the Coast Guard in order to complete and carry out this provision. I will work with the gentleman from California (Mr. Farr) to see that the transfer of this land to the City of Pacific Grove occurs in a timely manner.

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AMENDMENT NO. 11 OFFERED BY MR. LOBIONDO

Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, as the designee of the gentleman from Alaska (Mr. Young), I offer amendment No. 11, and I ask unanimous consent that I be permitted to offer the amendment at this point in the reading.

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Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this amendment and on behalf of the ranking members, the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Oberstar) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Filner), and thank them for working so closely with us on this amendment.

One of the key provisions of this amendment is it authorizes an additional $60 million for the Coast Guard's fiscal year 2005 for funds spent on responding to Hurricane Katrina which are not being reimbursed. Failure to reimburse the Service for the work it has done in New Orleans means that other Coast Guard missions will suffer.

The amendment also temporarily extends existing mariner documents and vessel certificates for mariners and vessels whose paperwork was held in New Orleans and establishes a temporary center for the processing of new mariner documents. Because of the effects of the hurricane on the Coast Guard facilities and the need for new mariners to aid in reconstruction efforts, these temporary actions are necessary to ensure the smoothest possible return to normal operations of the important maritime industry in the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.

Another important provision in this amendment is the Delaware River Protection Act, legislation that I introduced with a number of my colleagues to guard against another oil spill like the one that we suffered last November in the Delaware River. The bill unanimously passed the House in June, but, unfortunately, the other body has yet to act.

The Delaware River Protection Act would require persons to notify the Coast Guard in the event that an object is released into U.S. waters that could cause an obstruction to navigation. The Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers have found three very large objects in the area of the Delaware where the Athos I ran aground last November. Had the notification requirement been in place at the time any of these objects had been released into the water, the Coast Guard could have marked the location of these objects and had them removed.

This provision will improve maritime safety and will protect the environment and the economies of our local communities by preventing similar collisions in the future.

The Delaware River Protection Act also directs the President to adjust liability limits for vessel owners to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index since 1990 and establishes a research program to develop and test technologies to detect and remove submerged oil from U.S. waterways. This amendment will enhance the Federal Government's oil spill prevention and response capabilities.

I would like to thank in particular the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Saxton), the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Andrews), the gentleman from Delaware (Mr. Castle), the gentlewoman from Pennsylvania (Ms. Schwartz), and a host of others, along with our chairman and the ranking member for working to include this. I urge everyone to support this amendment.

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AMENDMENT NO. 10 OFFERED BY MR. SOUDER

Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, we are very happy to accept this amendment.

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AMENDMENT NO. 6 OFFERED BY MR. MARKEY

Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment would significantly add to the Coast Guard's mission responsibilities by requiring the service to regulate the construction and expansion of liquefied natural gas facilities. Coast Guardsmen and -women do not have the expertise and background to inspect building plans as they would be required to do under this amendment.

In addition, this amendment would in many ways duplicate the efforts already undertaken by the States and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to regulate these facilities. With the current situation, I question the addition of significant shore-side responsibilities to the Coast Guard's wide scope of missions. We have heard about what they have been expected to do, we have heard their missions have been expanded by some 27 items, that their personnel is not there, that their funding is not there; and I reiterate that they do not have the expertise and background to inspect these building plans and do the job that is required under this amendment.

I urge all of my colleagues to oppose this amendment.

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AMENDMENT NO. 4 OFFERED BY MR. FOSSELLA

Mr. FOSSELLA. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, I am prepared to accept the amendment.

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MODIFICATION TO AMENDMENT NO. 2 OFFERED BY MS. LORETTA SANCHEZ OF CALIFORNIA

Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to modify this amendment with the modification placed at the desk.

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Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, as modified, we are prepared to accept the amendment.

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Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. INSLEE. I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.

Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, is the gentleman withdrawing his amendment and asking for a colloquy?

Mr. INSLEE. Yes.

Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to withdraw my amendment.

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Mr. INSLEE. Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the gentleman from Alaska's (Mr. Young) comment.

I would yield to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. LoBiondo) if he wanted to make a further comment, but the gentleman from Alaska (Mr. Young) seems to have covered the map.

Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, if the gentleman will further yield, still with the understanding that the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Inslee) is going to withdraw the amendment, I commend the gentleman from Washington for his strong concern about the increased costs to local ports involved in complying with the Maritime Transportation Safety Act.

These same concerns were on the minds of the members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure when we first passed the Act in 2002. We had extensive discussions about it, and at that time we authorized a port security grant in the Act.

Unfortunately, as the gentleman has pointed out, it seems that the Department is not following the intent of the law, and that is a problem, and that is a mistake we would like to correct.

We pledge, myself and the gentleman from Alaska (Mr. Young), to work with the gentleman and the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Oberstar) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Filner) to continue as we move along with this bill to ensure that the port security grant program follows the criteria that we set out in the Maritime Transportation Safety Act. We will be very pleased to work with the gentleman on that.

The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the gentleman from Washington's unanimous consent request to withdraw the amendment?

There was no objection.

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