Brownwater News, February 2017

MarAd overhauling Marine Highway regulations

The Maritime Administration (MarAd) has notified the inland waterways industry and other interested parties that it plans to revise in full the federal regulations that concern America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP).

MarAd said the action is necessary to implement provisions of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012, to improve AMHP processes and to streamline the regulations.

Comments on the proposal published in the Jan. 11 issue of the Federal Register must be received by MarAd by March 13. For more mailing and other information, contact Tim Pickering at (202) 366-0704.

The proposed rule includes revisions to add “promote short-sea shipping” as a purpose the AMHP, and expand the eligibility.

New DOT panel focuses on transport automation

A new 25-member advisory committee focusing on automation across a number of modes has been established by former Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The committee, which includes leading professionals and experts in their field, held its first meeting Jan. 16.

“During my time at the department, we have fostered some of the most significant technological changes to ever take place in transportation, and we did while keeping our focus on the safety of the American people,” Foxx said. “This new automation committee will work to advance life-saving innovations while boosting our economy and making our transportation network more fair, reliable and efficient.”

Co-chairing the committee are Mary Barra, chairwoman and CEO of General Motors, and Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles. The vice chairman is Dr. J. Chris Gerdes, professor of engineering at Stanford University.

Among the other committee members is Ed Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO.

“This committee will play a needed role in helping the country prepare for its infrastructure needs in the coming years,” Foxx said.

Shuster applauds Trump for move on oil pipelines

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, applauded President Trump on Jan. 24 for signing an executive order to move forward with the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

In a statement issued a short time after Trump signed the order, Shuster said the president had “promised that he would work to improve America’s infrastructure and immediately begin to put the nation back on the path of economic growth and job creation. Today’s executive orders to cut the red tape that slows down critical projects show that he is following through on his word. For years, Republicans in Congress have been fighting to streamline the federal bureaucracy that prevents economic growth, and President Trump’s actions today are a welcome step in the right direction. I look forward to working with the president and my colleagues in Congress to help build a 21st-century infrastructure, promote our economic competitiveness and create opportunities for all Americans.”

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, a strong opponent of the pipelines, countered that the Keystone XL pipeline was originally rejected because “it was not in the country’s interest, and the environmental review of the Dakota Access pipeline was ordered because of the threats it poses to the Standing Rock Sioux. Nothing has changed. These pipelines were a bad idea then, and they’re a bad idea now.”

Shuster names subcommittee chairmen

Rep. Bill Shuster has announced chairmen for the six subcommittees of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for the 115th Congress.

The chairmen include Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., for the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, and Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., for the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee. That panel was formerly chaired by Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, who was term-limited out of the post but remains on the committee.

Shuster said the new Congress will present the committee with new opportunities to “advance a bold agenda focused on building an American infrastructure that is prepared for the challenges of the 21st century.”

Senate Democrats recognize role of ports, waterways

The American Association of Port Authorities was encouraged by the Jan. 24 release of the infrastructure investment outline by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and other Senate Democrats, especially the recognition that ports and waterways play a role in our nation’s economy, jobs and supply chain.

Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the association, said, “We’re optimistic that long-overdue infrastructure investments will be made.” Nagle said that seaport cargo activity accounts for 26 percent of the U.S. economy, generating nearly $4.6 trillion a year.

Seaway increases tolls 2 percent this year

The Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. has announced a toll rate increase of 2 percent for the 2017 navigation season. The revised tariff was posted and available on the Seaway website Jan. 25.

At the same time, the St. Lawrence Seaway wharfage and storage charges were also increased 2 percent for the 2017 navigation season. Following last year’s introduction of a weight or measure charge for general cargo, the weight or measure approach also will be applied to domestic general cargo starting this year.

For more information, contact Pierre Cecile at (450) 672-4115, Ext. 2376, or

South Carolina ports, Panama Canal post records

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) on Feb. 6 announced a record container volume of nearly 105,000 pier containers and 185,018 TEUs handled in January. As measured in pier containers, or total box volume, SCPA handled 104,792 boxes last month, surpassing the previous record of 104,003 containers handled in May 2015.

As SCPA moves into the second half of the fiscal year, the authority’s container volume is up 8 percent compared with the same period last year.

Also reporting a record on Feb. 6 was the Panama Canal Authority, with a new monthly tonnage mark of 36.1 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS) in January, which involved the transit of 1,260 ships through both the expanded and original locks. The previous record was established in December, when 1,166 ships transited the waterway for a total of 35.4 million PC/UMS.

“This increase reiterates the importance of the expanded canal, and it’s further proof of the maritime industry’s continued confidence in the Panama Canal and the impact it will have on the future of global trade,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano.

Seven months after the beginning of operations, the expanded canal has transited more than 750 neo-Panamax vessels, more the 50 percent of which were containerships. The other vessels included liquefied petroleum gas and liquefied natural gas ships, bulk carriers, tankers and vehicle carriers.

IWUB sets next meeting for Feb. 24   

The Inland Waterways Users Board has scheduled its 82nd meeting for Feb. 24 at the Port of Lake Charles (La.). On the preceding day, the board will host a site visit to the Calcasieu Lock improvement project.

For more information, contact Mark R. Pointon at (703) 428-6438.

By Professional Mariner Staff