The U.S. House Wednesday passed a bill to keep the Coast Guard in operation. Alaska Congressman Don Young says he inserted a provision to allow long-term leases on tidelands managed by the Coast Guard, which he says is aimed at spurring development at Womens Bay.
The bill has several provisions for Arctic operations. It requires the Coast Guard to devise a strategic plan for polar ice-breaking, and an analysis of whether it makes sense to buy or lease new icebreakers. In addition, it makes the Coast Guard decide whether it’s feasible to refurbish its Polar Sea icebreaker, now sitting idle in Seattle. The legislation also calls on the Coast Guard commandant to improve ship tracking in Arctic water by cooperating with other agencies. It does not authorize specific new funding for that effort, dubbed “Arctic Maritime Domain Awareness.”
The bill now moves to the Senate. It is one of several bills there that would stall EPA regulations on deck runoff and other discharges from fishing boats.