WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released the following statement after President Donald Trump signed into law the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018, a bill reauthorizing the work of the United States Coast Guard. The Act includes a bipartisan provision negotiated by Senator Carper, the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), that empowers the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Coast Guard to protect waterways by restricting ballast water discharges of harmful pollution and invasive species.
“The president today signed a strong, bipartisan bill that provides the Coast Guard with the resources it needs to safely defend our shores and waterways,” said Senator Carper. “Beyond bolstering homeland security, the Act empowers the Coast Guard to protect marine ecosystems in Delaware and throughout the country from invasive species by enforcing strict EPA rules limiting ballast water discharges. After months of tough negotiations, I’m proud that I was able to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reach an agreement that both supports marine life and provides long-term regulatory certainty to American vessel owners and mariners. Thank you to Senators Thune, Nelson, Stabenow and Portman, and the staffs of each of these members, for working with my staff and me on this important bipartisan provision.”
The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA):
- Delegates the lead role in establishing standards for discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel to the EPA and assigns the Coast Guard the lead role in monitoring and enforcing standards.
- Accommodates unique regional situations. Pacific Coast ballast water exchanges will continue and the Great Lakes may set their own basin-wide standards.
- Allows states to establish no-discharge zones for areas that require additional protection.
Highlights of The Frank Lobiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 (S. 140):
- Maritime drug and border enforcement – includes new authorities to combat illicit trafficking and smuggling and transnational criminal organizations by furthering interagency cooperation, combating concealment of bulk cash, and increasing the budget for investigations and ability to use informants.
- Multiyear contracting – authorizes the Coast Guard Commandant to utilize several new acquisition tools, including multiyear funding for procuring future National Security Cutters. These changes will allow the Coast Guard to reduce the price of follow-on vessels and give shipyards greater predictability, stabilizing workforces.
- Authorization level – authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 at $10.1 billion and $10.6 billion. The previous Coast Guard authorization, enacted in 2016, authorized $9.1 billion for the service for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
- Arctic Operations – directs the Coast Guard to conduct a review of the assets and personnel required to ensure the safety and security of the Arctic.
- Recreational Boating – increases safety and clarifies requirements for recreational boating safety by implementing the installation of engine cut-off switches and alternate signaling devices.
- Earlier last month, Senator Carper gave floor remarks on the VIDA agreement. Watch HERE.
- Yesterday, Senator Carper visited the Indian River Inlet Coast Guard Station in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to highlight VIDA and other important provisions in the bill. Read more about that visit HERE.
- VIDA was the subject of Senator Carper’s latest e-newsletter. Read that HERE.