Alaska Provisions Contained in Coast Guard Authorization Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – US. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today announced that the Senate has passed and sent to the White House the Coast Guard Authorization Bill.
The legislation, which passed the Senate Wednesday night by unanimous consent, contains several provisions supported by Murkowski that would improve the ability of the Coast Guard to execute its missions in the Arctic.
One provision includes language to address issues surrounding the application and receipt of a Transportation Worker Identification Credential, or TWIC. The authorization would eliminate the need to obtain a TWIC card by individuals who do not need access to a secure facility. This would thereby eliminate the need for charter boat operators to obtain a TWIC. The authorization also calls for a study on the costs, feasibility and security measures that would be required to securely deliver TWIC’s to an applicant’s residence or to a TWIC enrollment center. Murkowski said that this change will alleviate some of the unnecessary travel for those applying and picking up their TWIC
“There are four TWIC centers in Alaska - Anchorage, Juneau, Valdez and Soldotna - but it's difficult for transportation workers and mariners living outside those areas to get to the centers for the credential,” said Murkowski. “These workers have to travel twice to a center - once to apply and once to pick up the ID. It's bad enough to have to send you to Anchorage to get your card, and then have to travel back to pick it up is unreasonable.”
Also included in the authorization was language directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to have a cost benefit analysis conducted by a nongovernmental, independent third party on rebuilding, renovating or improving the existing fleet of ice breakers fleet for operation by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) or the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The Coast Guard currently has three icebreakers in its fleet, but two of them are sidelined due to ongoing maintenance,” said Murkowski. “In order for the Coast Guard to support Arctic research and complete its mandated missions in the Arctic, it must have a fully functioning fleet of ice breakers. This provision will evaluate how best to achieve that need.”
The authorization also included a provision mandating the continued use of two escort tugs for oil tankers transiting Prince William Sound and language directing the Coast Guard to work with the International Maritime Organization partners to safeguard Arctic shipping and to oversee the placement of aids to navigation, marine safety (tug and salvage), oil spill prevention, maritime domain awareness and search and rescue.