AWO Letter - June 18, 2024

California Senate Transportation Committee Passes Bill to Fix CARB Rule. Last week, in a major milestone for mariner safety in California, the CA Senate Transportation Committee voted 14-0 in favor of AB 1122, a bill authored by Assemblymember Dr. Jasmeet Bains, ensuring that CARB can't force vessels to install dangerous equipment like fire-causing Diesel Particulate Filters before they're certified as safe. From here, the bill will move to the CA Senate Environmental Quality Committee for another hearing.
As Kyle Burleson, AWO's Director of State Advocacy, testified to the committee: "We are asking that before [DPFs] are required to be installed that a standard safety process is followed. Whenever new equipment is installed on a vessel, a third-party auditor vets the product to ensure it is safe and will not catch fire under duress. For whatever reason, CARB has bypassed these safety experts."
See Kyle's full testimony to the CA Senate Transportation Committee here starting at 29:45. 
Coast Guard Requests Information on Vessel Discharge Reporting. The Coast Guard recently issued a request for information (RFI) on Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements to Document Environmental Compliance on Certain Commercial Vessels. As the Environmental Protection Agency works to finalize its performance standards for vessel discharges by its court-mandated September 23, 2024 deadline, the Coast Guard is preparing to initiate its rulemaking to establish implementing regulations - including for inspection, recordkeeping, and reporting - as required by the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA). AWO will convene members of the Vessel Discharges Working Group on June 20 from 2-3 PM (Eastern) to assess the RFI, review previous member positions and concerns about ballast water recordkeeping and reporting, and refine those into responses to the Coast Guard's RFI. If you are interested in participating, please contact Patrick Parsons.
Hudson Institute: Why America Needs the Jones Act to Compete with China. A newly released report by Michael Roberts, senior fellow with the Hudson Institute's Center for Defense Concepts and Technology, raises the alarm about China's maritime prowess, warning that "in no strategically important sector is China's advantage over the U.S. more pronounced than in the commercial maritime industry." The report outlines the threats posed by the Chinese government's use of its commercial maritime industry for government and military power projection and analyzes how the U.S. can counter those threats by growing and strengthening America's domestic maritime industry. One of Roberts's key findings is that weakening the Jones Act would be detrimental to our nation's security. "The serious and negative impacts on American security that a Jones Act repeal would produce should, in the current geopolitical context, end discussion of that subject," he emphasizes.
Members of Congress Release Maritime Strategy Blueprint. Recognizing the vital role of America's maritime industry, and the current challenges faced by the internationally-trading U.S. fleet, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has released a maritime strategy blueprint. Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined with Congressmen Mike Waltz (R-FL) and John Garamendi (D-CA) on a guidance document for developing a national maritime strategy to strengthen America's maritime power. The legislators present ten actions Congress can take to meet strategic objectives in the document, and importantly, recognize the central role of the Jones Act in achieving these objectives. Congressman Garamendi pointedly emphasizes, "Our National Maritime Strategy should start with three key words: the Jones Act." 
AWO applauds their leadership and is working to provide input on their proposals to strengthen U.S.-flag shipping, shipbuilding, and the maritime workforce. 
AWO Produces New Sustainability One Pager. AWO has published a new one pager highlighting the sustainability benefits of the tugboat, towboat and barge industry and showcasing the emissions reduction benefits of moving cargo on the waterways. The document includes information on: the modal advantage of the industry; how industry has voluntarily reduced carbon emissions over time; investments being made in new vessel technologies; and how infrastructure improvements can further improve the sustainability of the U.S. transportation system. This one pager is an advocacy tool to help demonstrate to policymakers our industry's positive environmental impact and highlight how moving more cargo by water would be a boon for sustainability.
AWO Releases Video Highlighting the American Waterways HERO Award. AWO has produced a new video showcasing the American Waterways Honor & Excellence in Rescue Operations (HERO) Award. The HERO Award, established in March 2023, documents and recognizes rescues undertaken by AWO member company employees that demonstrate selflessness, skill and bravery.

The two-minute video, The American Waterways HERO Award: Honoring Industry's Heroic Mariners, highlights the bravery of Award recipients as well as the important role that tugboat, towboat and barge industry mariners play in keeping our waterways safe. The video also features several awardees who shared their insights on their rescue efforts and on the industry's dedication to safety culture.

Companies wishing to nominate employees for an American Waterways HERO Award can visit our website to fill out an informational form.
AWO Soliciting Membership for New CSO Working Group to Advise on Security Issues. AWO is soliciting members to join a new Company Security Officer Working Group. This group, which will succeed the existing Security Working Group, will inform AWO's management of the AWO Alternative Security Program, as well as compliance challenges related to the Maritime Transportation Security Act, Vessel and Facility Security Plan requirements, and the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program. AWO will maintain our Cybersecurity Working Group to assist with cybersecurity topics including the Coast Guard's cybersecurity rulemaking and the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency's proposed cyber incident reporting regulations. 
We encourage CSOs and others with company security responsibilities to join the new working group. Please reach out to Liam Morcroft if you have any questions about the CSO Working Group and if you would like to be involved.
AWO PAC Corner
AWO PAC and Inside Elections. AWO has partnered with Inside Elections for another special edition, featuring analysis of certain races in New Mexico and New York, as well as an overview of Senate and House elections.
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.
AWO Attends Sector New Orleans Change of Command.  AWO recently attended the Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Change of Command ceremony, during which CAPT Gregory A. Callaghan replaced CAPT Kelly K. Denning as Captain of the Port.  Thank you to Captain Denning, who is retiring after 26 years of service. Representatives from AWO members Ingram Barge Company, Marquette Transportation Company, Chevron Corporation, and American Commercial Barge Line attended the event, along with Jill Bessetti, AWO Southern Region Vice President.
Join Us in Chicago for the AWO Safety Committees' Summer Meeting this August! Registration is open for the AWO Safety Committees' Summer Meeting, to be held August 14-15 in Chicago. The event will include lessons learned from the Key Bridge allision response, a case study on a barge breakaway and stranding at the McAlpine Dam structure, an update on SIRE 2.0 by OCIMF, a discussion on shipyard challenges for the safety manager in coastal and inland waterways, and much more. Please contact Michael Breslin with any questions.
If you are interested in being a sponsor, please contact Caitlin Clark.