Friday, June 12, 2015

Ship Recycling Legislation Introduced

By Mark Edward Nero

On June 4, US Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced legislation to reform the domestic marine recycling industry.

The two say that the Ships to Be Recycled in the States (STORIS) Act would not only improve the domestic ship recycling industry, but also promote transparency by requiring reports from Maritime Administration (MARAD) and an audit by the Government Accountability Office.

Another Louisiana Republican, Congressman Garret Graves is introducing companion legislation in the US House of Representatives.

“The Maritime Administration receives millions of dollars in federal funding, but they’ve never reported how the sales money is spent or how the agency awards contracts,” Vitter said. “Ship recycling is an important part of our domestic maritime industry, and these reforms would improve federal contracting, cut government waste and help create jobs.”

Current law requires all excess government vessels to be sold to domestic marine recyclers to be dismantled. A portion of funding from the sales goes toward the Vessel Operations Revolving Fund, federal and state maritime academies, and the maritime heritage grant program.

The STORIS Act would ensure that the required funding goes to federal and state maritime academies and to heritage grants funding to the Department of Interior. It would also require MARAD to issue an annual report on how its money is spent and publicize its ship recycling agreements.

Additionally, the STORIS Act creates jobs by ensuring that all vessels can be dismantled in the United States in compliance with US environmental and safety laws, and are not exported where those safety rules do not apply.

The STORIS Act is named in recognition of the former Coast Guard Cutter STORIS, which was dismantled in Mexico in 2013.

“There have been concerns that the agency receives millions in federal funding but lacks transparency,” Cassidy said of MARAD. “The STORIS Act will strengthen oversight over the agency.”

“We have found multiple instances where the US Maritime Administration has failed to maximize the return on investment on the sale of retired federal vessels by not accepting the highest bid on a number of contracts and not fulfilling its obligation to reinvest these funds in our merchant mariner workforce,” said Graves.

The bill, Graves said, would “prevent MARAD from leaving millions of dollars on the table” in regard to ship recycling contracts.