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Legislation to update operations at the Maritime Administration was recently introduced by the leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee.
The Maritime Administration Reauthorization Act would approve $1.6 billion for the maritime workforce, infrastructure networks, research and development operations and fleet sustainability. Its committee consideration has yet to be scheduled.
“This bill makes critical investments in America’s maritime workforce, shipyards and port infrastructure that are key to keeping our supply chains moving,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Commerce Committee, said on June 8. The panel has jurisdiction over federal trucking regulations. “It will create a new innovation center to explore cleaner fuels and new technologies to boost resilience of our maritime fleet and ensure the U.S. maritime industry remains competitive well into the future.”
The bill would specifically fund operations for the port infrastructure development program, the maritime environmental and technical assistance program, the maritime security program, the tanker security program, the small shipyard grant program, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and the state maritime academies.
The legislation also would dedicate resources for port infrastructure resiliency and disaster preparedness, as well as develop and evaluate ship quieting technology to reduce vessel noise. It would establish a maritime innovation center for developments in alternative maritime fuels, and require a study to evaluate the impact on salmon populations of tire runoff at ports.
Co-sponsoring the Maritime Administration Reauthorization Act is the panel’s ranking member, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.): “A strong Maritime Administration is essential for our national and economic security.”
“I am glad to support this bill, which would improve our marine highway system, help protect against sexual assault and harassment within our merchant fleet and at the Merchant Marine Academy, support maritime education and reauthorize the port infrastructure development program,” Wicker added.
This month the Maritime Administration announced the designation of four new Marine Highway projects, which fall under the America’s Marine Highway program. Two of the projects are located in Alaska and the other ones are in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. The designation paves the way for access to federal funds approved in the recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, known as the bipartisan infrastructure law.
“The president’s bipartisan infrastructure law focuses on ensuring that every Marine Highway project improves the movement of goods,” Deputy Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley said on June 3. “We will also address resiliency, the reduction of emissions and other public benefits like supply chain congestion and safety.”
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