On December 20, 2012, the President signed into law the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012 (H.R. 2838), a bill introduced in the House by Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo and Full Committee Chairman John L. Mica. The bill provides the necessary authorities and resources for the Coast Guard to carry out its broad responsibilities and vital missions.
The Coast Guard enforces the nation’s laws in U.S. waters and on the high seas, and protects the lives and property of those at sea. The Service’s missions include maritime search and rescue, illegal drug and migrant interdiction, oil spill prevention and response in the marine environment, marine safety, maintenance of navigation aids, enforcement of U.S. fisheries and other marine environmental laws, and maritime defense readiness.
H.R. 2838 includes important programmatic reforms to ensure the Service can better utilize its resources and more efficiently replace its aging assets, as well as provisions that will give the Coast Guard, its servicemembers and dependents greater parity with their counterparts in the other Armed Services. The bill further aligns Coast Guard’s authorities with those granted to the Department of Defense.
H.R. 2838 also enhances operations while reducing costs by reforming and improving Coast Guard administration and eliminating obsolete authorities. The bill recognizes the current budget environment and saves taxpayer dollars without impacting the service’s critical missions.
Furthermore, the bill encourages job growth in the maritime sector by reducing regulatory burdens on small businesses. The regulatory relief provided by this bill includes eliminating the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirement for maritime workers to make multiple trips to a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) enrollment center to receive the TWIC ID card; extending deadlines for compliance with new Coast Guard regulations on fishing vessels to ensure the service can enforce them fairly and properly; and extending the duration of medical certificates so mariners can continue to work while the Coast Guard reduces its backlog of applications.
H.R. 2838 also extends for an additional year the current moratorium for fishing vessels and small commercial vessels’ compliance with tangled and bureaucratic EPA regulations governing vessel incidental discharges, such as rain water runoff and air conditioner condensate.