House panel passes Coast Guard bill, includes Arctic funding

The following is the text of a press release issued by U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska):
(WASHINGTON) — The Coast Guard Authorization bill (H.R. 3619) has passed out of the full committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Many provisions championed by Rep. Young including H.R. 2865, his Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment Implementation bill, have been included in the Authorization.
“This bill is incredibly important, and I applaud my good friend Chairman Oberstar for moving it through committee quickly,†said Rep. Young. “The Coast Guard is an integral part of our national security and a vital source to Alaska. Kodiak is home to the largest Coast Guard base in the country, and therefore home to hundreds of Alaska’s finest men and women. This authorization bill contains numerous key provisions that will benefit our entire Country and many provisions important to Alaska specifically.
“I had a meeting with the Commandant (of the Coast Guard) this week and he relayed to me that this authorization is as important as ever. The Coast Guard is essential to our country and will continue to play an important role through our future. Climate change means new opportunities for Alaska’s arctic region and the Coast Guard will play a vital part in our economic future as they are tasked with overseeing these routes.
“Additionally this authorization includes language that would require dual tug escorts for double hulled oil tankers at Prince William Sound. This will allow for greater redundancy in a place where severe weather and human error can lead to disaster. Twenty years ago, the state of Alaska suffered the worst tragedy of its history, during the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. We are still learning from the mistakes of that disaster and this bill works toward a safer and better future for our waterways and for the men and women of the Coast Guard.â€
Additional provisions in H.R. 3619 beneficial to Alaska:
Absorption of Rep. Young’s Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment Implementation bill which authorizes funding and authority to provide aids to navigation, arctic oil spill prevention and response, icebreaking escort tug and salvage, long range vessel tracking, search and rescue, promotes international agreements among Arctic nations, and authorizes an icebreaker study and cost assessment to determine if new vessels should be constructed or rebuild current ones
Deadline to report on assessment of needs for additional Coast Guard presence in high latitude regions, including need for forward operating bases
Ship emission reduction demonstration project Dual tug escorts in Prince William Sound Cold weather survival training
Decommissioning of STORIS cutter to be turned into maritime museum in Juneau Increase size limits for offshore supply vessels from 500 to 6,000 gross tons Alaska Anchor Handlers which allows foreign anchor handlers to be used in oil and gas development off Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf until Jones Act vessels are constructed and exploration is allowed to proceed
Vessel Traffic Risk Assessment for Cook Inlet Department of Homeland Security is required to ensure the new LORAN (long range navigation system) is operational before the old LORAN system is decommissioned
By Professional Mariner Staff