Capital Report – April


US Senate Confirms
Andrew Wheeler as EPA Chief

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Andrew Wheeler as the 15th administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). President Donald Trump had announced his appointment as the acting EPA administrator in July 2018. Wheeler had previously been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the EPA deputy administrator in April 2018.

Wheeler began his career during the George H.W. Bush Administration as a special assistant in EPA’s Pollution Prevention and Toxics office. He has worked at the Energy and Environment Practice Group at FaegreBD Consulting; the Energy and Natural Resources Industry team at Faegre Baker Daniels law firm; the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; and the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, Wetlands and Nuclear Safety. Wheeler is a former chairman of the National Energy Resource Organization.

Door Opens for Tech Updates
To Classic S.O.S. Signal

After 100 years, the marine S.O.S. visual distress signal will change colors in the U.S. In December 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) issued a policy letter accepting red-orange/cyan as official colors to be used in maritime electronic visual distress signal devices (eVDSDs).

The new standard on eVDSDs published in June 2018 by the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services opens the door to permit a new type of LED-based visual distress signal with advanced technology that is both safer for the user and environmentally friendly.

Manufacturers should plan according to the most recent USCG policy letter.

USCG “recognized that pyrotechnic distress signals are old technology. Existing distress signal requirements and electric distress signal specifications need to be revised to match the advanced technology and performance capabilities of newer devices,” according to staff engineer Martin Jackson on the Coast Guard blog.

An initial field study report was issued in the Long Island Sound. To assist with the research, Sirius Signal funded an additional 2017 field study in the San Diego Bay. The research confirmed that the S.O.S. signal is still being taught and that a red-orange/cyan light flashing the S.O.S. pattern is most recognizable while on the water.

S.O.S. became the universal standard to summon help (most frequently in maritime settings) on July 1, 1908.

Launch of Marine Minerals
Information System

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has launched the Marine Minerals Information System (MMIS) to assist decision makers in managing coastal recovery and planning coastal resilience projects.

This marks a big step forward in BOEM’s efforts to build a National Offshore Sand Inventory, providing offshore sediment data, including data and information from 30 years of BOEM-funded research and data from more than 40 partner organizations. The information on offshore sand and gravel covers resources throughout the U.S. Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

AAPA Selects Rep. Díaz-Balart
As 2019 ‘Port Person’

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has selected U.S. Congressman and House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Subcommittee Ranking Member Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.) as 2019’s Port Person of the Year for his stalwart advocacy of the port industry.

Rep. Díaz-Balart, who also co-chairs the Florida Ports Caucus, is serving his ninth term representing Florida’s 25th Congressional District. In the fiscal 2019 T-HUD appropriations bill, he negotiated language that resulted in nearly $293 million in first-ever funding being appropriated for the Port Infrastructure Development Program within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. The program’s goal is to fund infrastructure improvements that enhance U.S. port competitiveness and the ability of coastal seaports to effectively handle the movement of goods in the U.S. supply chain.

House, Senate Bill to Protect
Science from Politics

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced the Scientific Integrity Act in the U.S. House and Senate, respectively.

This legislation would protect public scientific research and reports from the influence of political and special interests.

“Independent, rigorous scientific research is one of the most powerful tools we have for advancing the public interest and keeping the American people safe,” said Tonko. “President Trump’s multi-agency assault on environmental standards has hinged on efforts to distort, bury and even rewrite credible public scientific findings, including his absurd denial of the growing climate crisis and efforts to cover up evidence that the American people are being exposed to dangerous toxins. Protecting the integrity of that science is one of the most important ways we can hold this president and his administration accountable.”

“Our bill would protect government science from political interference,” Schatz said. “It would make data and findings off limits for political appointees and managers and make sure scientists follow careful processes for review.”

The Scientific Integrity Act formalizes and reinforces policies that require federal agencies that conduct or fund scientific research to maintain clear scientific integrity principles; affirms that science dictates policy and that scientific research should be free from the pressure of politics, ideology or financial influence; and holds public scientists to high standards and guarantees their rights and protections under the law.