This week, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee marked up two bills with marine relevance.
The bipartisan Maritime Administration Authorization and Enhancement Act (S. 2829), introduced by Senator Deb Fischer (NE) reauthorizes the U.S. Maritime Administration to maintain some national security aspects of the merchant marines. Among the amendments, Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-AK) have proposed $150 million in funding for the U.S. Coast Guard to buy a new heavy polar icebreaker. The U.S. currently has two heavy and one medium polar icebreaker, while Russia has 40 icebreakers, several of which are nuclear powered.
The Digital Coast Act (S. 2325), introduced by Senator Tammy Baldwin (WI), would continue to streamline online access for coastal data, including sea-level rise and marine mammal populations, through National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Digital Coast Project. The open-access portal can potentially assist coastal communities with storm preparedness and planning projects.