AWO Letter - April 24

NTSAC Meets to Discuss Sub M Improvement and Other Topics. The National Towing Safety Advisory Committee convened on April 12 at Crowley Maritime Corporation in Jacksonville, FL, for its second in-person meeting since it was rechartered by Congress in 2018. NTSAC was briefed on the activities of its four active subcommittees. The two subcommittees stood up by NTSAC in 2021 to develop recommendations on anticipated industry challenges (led by Ingram Barge Company’s Matt Lagarde) and challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic (led by Blessey Marine Services’ Angie Fay) are expected to present final reports in the fall; their draft final reports are available on the NTSAC website. The other two subcommittees were established in Fall 2022 to recommend rulemaking improvements to Subchapter M (led by Marquette Transportation Company’s Brian Khey) and training best practices (led by Arenstam Maritime Consulting’s John Arenstam) and are anticipated to finalize their reports in 2024. AWO is engaged with each of the subcommittees and encourages members who are interested in getting involved to reach out to the subcommittee chairs.
The Coast Guard’s announcement of the NTSAC meeting in late March did not include any advertisement of the Committee’s working session on April 11, which was closed to the public. AWO shared concerns with the agency that the lack of advance notice and absence of a public working session made it difficult for interested industry stakeholders to participate in the Committee’s work. As a result of AWO’s advocacy, the Coast Guard committed to ensuring that future meetings provide for two days of public meetings, including working sessions, and are announced at least three weeks in advance. NTSAC’s next meeting is being planned for the week of September 25, 2023. If you have any questions, please contact Caitlyn Stewart.
MarineLink Interviews AWO President & CEO. AWO President & CEO Jennifer Carpenter spoke with MarineLink for a recent interview, discussing topics of importance to the tugboat, towboat and barge industry including the Jones Act, environmental sustainability, waterways infrastructure, workforce challenges, and more. “I’m so optimistic about the relevance of our industry to our country’s current and future challenges,” she stated. “Our commitment at AWO is . . . to advocate for [our members], to provide resources for members, to amplify their voice as they look to . . . support their customers and our country [in] taking advantage of these new opportunities.”
AWO Counsel Discusses Marijuana Testing with Waterways Journal. AWO Counsel and Director – Government Affairs Patrick Parsons recently spoke with the Waterways Journal about legal issues surrounding marijuana testing, noting the impacts to mariner recruitment and retention. AWO has advocated for the addition of oral fluid testing as an option for companies, which would provide needed flexibility for employers while still ensuring mariners are not impaired while on the job.
AWO and Inside Elections. AWO has partnered with Inside Elections for another special edition, featuring insights on notable races and the upcoming election season.
AWO PAC is the connected political action committee for The American Waterways Operators and serves as the trade association’s separate segregated fund. As a trade association, AWO is prohibited from using general treasury funds or membership dues to make federal contributions. AWO is one of the most effective advocacy associations in Washington, DC, and relies on voluntary personal contributions to fund AWO PAC.
AWO PAC supports federal candidates who are champions of the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry and who are leaders on issues important to our industry. AWO PAC is dedicated to protecting AWO members’ investments in the safest, most environmentally responsible and most economical mode of freight transportation and safeguarding the integrity of the Jones Act to protect the bottom lines of our members. AWO PAC may solicit contributions from individuals of a member company once the member representative gives AWO written prior approval.
RIETF Holds Annual Meeting. The River Industry Executive Task Force (RIETF) held its Annual Meeting on March 30 in Baton Rouge, LA. The group elected Todd Behlke, Kirby Inland Marine, LP, and Russell Lampkins, Ingram Barge Company, as the industry chair and vice chair, respectively. The industry members of RIETF met with the Army Corps of Engineers’ Mississippi Valley Division and Great Lakes and Ohio River Division commanders and their senior staff, a representative from the Eighth Coast Guard District, and all of the current members of the Mississippi River Commission. During the meeting, the group discussed the state of the industry; lessons learned from last year’s low water event; dredging improvements needed; the need to harmonize lock closures; the permitting process for structures in the river; and moveable bridges.
AWO Members Praise Washington State Jones Act Resolution. In a recent op-ed for the Everett Herald, AWO members Russ Shrewsbury, Western Towboat, and JR Dunlap, Dunlap Towing, lauded the Washington state Senate on passing a resolution supporting the Jones Act and maritime industry contributions to the state and country. “Our nation’s mariners have reliably kept vital cargo moving no matter what; through pandemics, escalating inflation, energy volatility, war in Europe, catastrophic weather events and more,” they explained, noting the maritime industry’s vital contributions to the economy, safety, sustainability and national security. “The Jones Act underpins all of this by creating space for American maritime to thrive and serve,” they noted.
AWO Testifies in Support of Columbia-Snake River System. As part of the Columbia River Basin Mediation on April 3, Peter Schrappen, AWO’s Vice President – Pacific Region, testified in support of the Columbia-Snake River System (CSRS), highlighting the 8.5 million tons of cargo that barges and towing vessels help move every year on the system. The industry’s movement of cargo on the CSRS leads to improved safety and reduced congestion on highways and railroads, he explained, adding that marine transportation emits significantly less greenhouse gases than other modes of freight transportation.
These listening sessions are part of the decades-long lawsuit over the impact of the federal dams in the Columbia River basin. A 13-month stay in the litigation ends in August 2023. The next listening session is scheduled for May 25. Please contact Peter Schrappen for more details or if you want to participate.
Coast Guard Releases Report on Hudson River Anchorages. The U.S. Coast Guard released its final report on the benefits and risks of establishing federally designated anchorage areas on the Hudson River. Congress directed the Coast Guard to conduct the report in response to disagreement between maritime operators and some members of the public over the safety need for anchorages on the river. The report, conducted in consultation with the Hudson River Safety, Navigation, and Operations Committee (HRSNOC), found that there are tangible safety benefits and practically no risks to establishing additional anchorage areas. The Coast Guard notes in the report’s conclusion that it would like to explore the creation of new anchorages and to work with HRSNOC to identify where additional anchorages would be most appropriate, but federal law limits where anchorages may be located. AWO supports the safety value of anchorage areas and will continue to work with the Coast Guard, Congress, AWO members and coalition partners, including the Towboat and Harbor Carriers Association Port of NY/NJ, Hudson River Pilots, and other maritime operators, to ensure the safety of navigation on the Hudson River.
AWO Advocates for Jones Act in New Hampshire. AWO Vice President – Atlantic Region Brian Vahey and State Advocacy Representative Kyle Burleson traveled to Concord, New Hampshire to testify before the House Committee on Commerce and Consumer Affairs on April 12. The Committee heard testimony on SB 102, which inaccurately singles out the Jones Act for driving up the cost of home heating fuels and calls for a NH Department of Energy study on the matter. AWO’s testimony emphasized that previous studies have determined that the Jones Act has a negligible impact on the cost of fuel and such a study would be unnecessary, duplicative, and expensive for NH taxpayers. The testimony also highlighted the important benefits of the Jones Act and its role in maintaining a healthy U.S. maritime industry.
NOAA Accepting Nominations for Hydrographic Services Review Panel. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is seeking nominees to join its Hydrographic Services Review Panel. This federal advisory committee advises NOAA on issues related to navigation, nautical charts, and more. They are seeking panelists with expertise in marine navigation, port administration, maritime shipping, cartography, and other related fields. This is an opportunity for our industry to have a voice as NOAA makes decisions on issues impacting navigation, such as electronic chart development. Nominations are due April 28. The four-year term starts January 1, 2024.
One-Minute Poll: Annual Regional Meeting Format Preference. AWO strives to provide members with educational and enjoyable meeting experiences while balancing travel costs and time demands of attending in-person meetings. As our team begins planning the 2024 Annual Regional Meetings, we want your input on which meeting length and format works best for you.
If you haven’t already taken the poll, please click here. It will take you less than one minute to complete. Thank you for your time and your feedback!
Join Us for the 2023 Spring Convention & Barge-In. The AWO Spring Convention and Barge-In is less than three weeks away! Join AWO members, staff, friends and colleagues for our marquee event of the year. Register on your Member Dashboard or through the AWO App.
Sponsorship opportunities are available for Spring Convention. Sponsoring an AWO event offers a unique opportunity to promote your organization’s products and services while demonstrating your commitment to the tugboat, towboat and barge industry.

Please refer to the Sponsorship Prospectus by clicking this link to view the opportunities, costs, and benefits of sponsorship. To discuss sponsorship opportunities, please contact Caitlin Clark.