AWO Testifies At USCG User Fee Hearing

The Coast Guard and Navigation Subcommittee of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, chaired by Congressman Billy Tauzin of Louisiana, recently held a hearing on the Coast Guard's proposed regulations concerning vessel inspection and merchant mariners licensing and document fees.

Jack Park, Crowley Maritime Corporation, testified on behalf of the American Waterways Operators (AWO).

At the outset, chairman Tauzin and all other subcommittee members present expressed the view that the proposed fees were unfair, that the levels proposed clearly exceeded the cost or value of the service being provided, and that small operators would be particularly hard hit by this new financial burden.

Rear Adm. Arthur E. Henn testified that given the concerns which have been expressed by Congress and the public, the comment period would be extended, and that five regional hearings would be held during this period in order to receive additional public comments. Admiral Henn also admitted that the impacts on small operators clearly appeared to be a problem, and he believed the Coast Guard should consider a more equitable schedule to reflect actual Coltec Industries @ Visit us at ASNE Booth Nos. 302, 303, 304. Fairbanks Morse Engine Division cost of the inspection service being provided.

Industry witnesses were unanimous in their opposition to the proposed fee structure, citing specific examples of the proposed fee impacts on various categories of vessel operators. Labor witnesses also opposed the fees.

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