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Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
Hearing on “Maritime Transportation Regulations: Impacts on Safety, Security, Jobs, and the Environment; Part I”
September 10, 2013
(Remarks as Prepared)
The Subcommittee is meeting today to review regulations affecting the maritime industry. We are interested in how the implementation of these regulations is impacting vessel safety, the flow of commerce through our ports, and the ability to grow jobs in the maritime sector.
The Coast Guard, Federal Maritime Commission, and Maritime Administration have broad authority to regulate maritime commerce, including establishing and enforcing rules to ensure vessel and passenger safety, protect consumers, and promote the U.S. flag industry. With such vast authority comes great responsibility to regulate industry in a manner that is fair and does not stifle competition and job growth. This hearing is the first of a two part hearing focusing on ensuring these agencies are meeting that responsibility.
Today’s hearing will review pending rules impacting the safety and security of our ports and waterways, as well as regulations affecting business practices and the viability of the U.S. flag. On October 10th, we will reconvene to review environmental regulations impacting the maritime sector.
Maritime commerce is essential to the U.S. economy. While regulations must address concerns related to safety, security, and stewardship, they must also balance the importance of maintaining the free flow of maritime commerce. Domestic shipping alone is responsible for over 500,000 American jobs and $100 billion in annual economic output. In addition, 90 percent of all global trade and over 25 percent of our Gross Domestic Product moves via the sea. With the economy still in a fragile state, it is imperative the federal government foster an atmosphere where our maritime industry can compete and expand.
To that end, I am concerned about the cost and impact of several rulemakings that will affect the maritime sector. Specifically, forthcoming Coast Guard regulations affecting the commercial and recreational fishing industry will place significant economic burdens on these small businesses. I am also concerned the proposed rules by the FMC are misguided and will do little to further consumer protections, but will impose enormous regulatory burdens and costs on business. If these and other rules are not written and executed in a common sense manner, I am concerned they could make it financially impossible for the U.S. maritime sector to grow jobs.
The Maritime Administration’s mission is to “foster, promote, and develop the merchant maritime industry in the United States.” In 2008, Congress strengthened the agency’s ability to fulfill that mission by ensuring it could properly enforce our cargo preference laws. Unfortunately, the Administration continues to drag their feet and refuses to promulgate rules to implement the law. Meanwhile, the number of ships flying the U.S. flag in overseas trade continues to dwindle. The inaction on implementing the 2008 law, coupled with the President’s misguided efforts to restructure the Food for Peace Program has left me baffled. It would appear by their actions that this administration simply does not understand or care about the critical role the U.S. flag industry plays in expanding our economy and ensuring our national security.
If we want to grow our economy and remain a world power capable of defending ourselves and our allies, we must work together to strengthen and preserve our maritime industry. I thank the witnesses for appearing today and look forward to their testimony.
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