Offshore help in amendments

12 10, 2012 by The Advocate

The U.S. House approved Senate amendments to the Coast Guard reauthorization with several tweaks that the Louisiana congressional delegation considers favorable to offshore industry.

Among the new provisions are measures like the “Notice of Arrival” so domestic ships will not have to inform the United States Coast Guard as much as they do now while moving from different oil rigs. The provisions could make Louisiana-based vessels and companies more competitive for offshore energy projects.

In another provision, U.S. Reps. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, and Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, claimed joint victory for a change they authored to eliminate burdensome Transportation Worker Identification Credential, or TWIC, rules.

The goal is to ease the application and renewal process for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential that must be obtained by thousands of merchant marines and other similar professions. The issue is that workers must often appear twice in person at regional offices in order to complete and renew the credentials. This is particularly problematic, Scalise said, when people involved are on ships far overseas and cannot immediately return to the country.

While U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, helped push for several of the successful changes, one of his key amendments was opposed by the oil and gas industry and was stripped off.

In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting BP oil leak, Landry had tacked on an amendment requiring secondary “standby” vessels a certain distance from oil rigs to more quickly rescue workers in the event of a disaster.

But the oil-and-gas industry opposed such measures as too costly and as unnecessary overregulation.