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July 2012 Issue

Report Card on Ocean Policy Criticizes Funding for Ocean Programs
The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI) released its 2012 U.S. Ocean Policy Report Card in June, praising state and regional efforts to implement the National Ocean Policy (NOP) and criticizing the federal government’s lack of action.

JOCI issued a C for national support and leadership on ocean management, a D- for lack of federal funding and an F for failure of the Senate to provide its advice and consent to the president to join the Law of the Sea Convention, despite strong support from the administration and private sector leaders.

The report card shows states and regions leading the way in improving ocean management, despite tough budgets, with an A- grade. Regions highlighted include the Gulf of Mexico, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Pacific Northwest.

The report card also makes 15 recommendations to the federal government and states on how to improve their grades, including stronger communication and outreach efforts to educate and engage the private sector in implementing the NOP and consistent, high-level support from states and federal agencies for advancing regional priorities.


Worker ID Card Reforms, ‘Scan-All’ Policy Included in SMART Port Security Act
The House Homeland Security Committee approved reforms to the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) security program in June that would eliminate financial and logistical burdens on transportation workers. The bill would also require all U.S.-bound cargo to be scanned at overseas ports.

The Securing Maritime Activities through Risk-based Targeting Act, or the SMART Port Security Act (H.R. 4251), would postpone requiring workers to renew TWIC cards in the absence of Department of Homeland Security final regulations mandating biometric card readers. The bill also includes reforms to the enrollment, activation, issuance and renewal process.

The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) supports language in the SMART Act. “Despite concerns about the program from the outset, workers across the country fulfilled their legal obligations by applying for the TWIC biometric cards, which, without the proper hardware in place at ports, turns TWIC cards into expensive flash passes,” said TTD President Edward Wytkind.

The bill would ensure that workers are only required to make one in-person visit to an enrollment center, lifting a logistical burden from workers who may be hundreds of miles away on the job. The program reforms would suspend the TWIC renewal process until June 30, 2014.

The first wave of applicants, beginning in October, must pay $132.50 to renew their cards if this legislation is not enacted.

The National Retail Federation sent a letter to the House Homeland Security Committee supporting the bill and requesting an added provision to waive 9/11 Act requirements to scan all U.S.-bound maritime cargo containers. This provision remains in the SMART Act and was originally scheduled to take effect on July 1, a timeline Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and other critics call impractical and damaging to trade. At the time of publication, scanning measures were delayed.


Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act Aims To Promote Growth in Alternative Energy Industry
U.S. Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) in June introduced the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act, which would amend the federal tax code to help renewable fuels companies form master limited partnerships (MLPs) that combine the funding advantages of corporations and the tax advantages of partnerships to increase access to significant private capital.

An MLP is a business structure that is taxed as a partnership but whose ownership interests are traded like corporate stock on a market. By statute, MLPs have only been available to investors in energy portfolios for oil, natural gas, coal extraction and pipeline projects. These projects get access to capital at a lower cost and are more liquid than traditional financing approaches to energy projects, making them highly effective at attracting private investment. Investors in renewable energy projects have so far been explicitly prevented from forming MLPs.

“Extending the MLP market-based incentive structure to qualified renewable technologies, such as wave, tidal and ocean current convertors, will stimulate investment in the renewable-energy sector and provide the U.S. with more homegrown energy choices,” Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition President Sean O’Neill said.

The legislation has been endorsed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Offshore Wind Development Coalition and the Advanced Ethanol Council.

House Committee Approves Coast Guard, Marine Debris Legislation
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved in June the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Authorization Act of 2012 (H.R. 5887), a three-year reauthorization of the Coast Guard for fiscal years 2013 to 2015, and the Marine Debris Act Reauthorization Amendments of 2011 (H.R. 1171).

Although the House approved a three-year Coast Guard bill last year, the Senate has not yet acted on it. H.R. 5887 was introduced in the House by Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.). The bill also extends the date on which new fishing vessels must be classed in order to give the Coast Guard sufficient time to provide guidance to the fishing industry and shipyards.

H.R. 1171, Rep. Sam Farr’s (D-Calif.) bill to reauthorize the Marine Debris Research, Prevention and Reduction Act, would continue funding for NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, which addresses the adverse impacts of trash in the ocean. The bill would fund the program through fiscal year 2016. A companion bill is advancing in the Senate.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee also approved in June H.R. 4965, sponsored by Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), which is intended to prevent the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from significantly expanding federal power to regulate water and land use under the Clean Water Act.



2013:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC
2012:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC
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