Medical Waivers for Merchant Mariner Credential Applicants With a History of Seizure Disorders

The Coast Guard is seeking public comment regarding criteria for granting medical waivers to merchant mariners with a history of seizure disorders. Coast Guard regulations provide that convulsive disorders (also known as seizure disorders) are conditions that may lead to disqualification for a merchant mariner credential (MMC). Because a significant number of merchant mariner applicants have suffered from seizure disorders, it is important for the Coast Guard to develop and publish clear guidance regarding how such MMC applicants are evaluated. Prior to issuing a policy change on when waivers should be granted for seizure disorders, the Coast Guard will accept comments from the public on whether the proposed criteria adequately address safety concerns.

Comments and related material must either be submitted to our online docket via on or before April 24, 2013 or reach the Docket Management Facility by that date. 


Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)--Reader Requirements

The Coast Guard announces a public meeting to take place on Thursday, April 18, 2013 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the Crystal City Marriott at Reagan National Airport, 1999 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia 22202. The building is accessible by taxi, public transit, and privately-owned conveyance. Please note that the session may adjourn early if all business, concerns, and questions are addressed. They will post a written summary of the meeting and oral comments in the docket.


Proposed New Survey of Charter Boat and Headboat Angler Interactions With Sea Turtles

The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

Written comments must be submitted on or before May 6, 2013.

Rep. Sensenbrenner Introduces New Bill Blocking E15

Rep. Sensenbrenner (joined by Broun, Griffin, Hall, Smith, Westmoreland) introduced HR 875, to overturn the E15 waivers until the completion of a comprehensive National Academy of Sciences study on mid-level ethanol blends. 

$26 Annual User Fee to Renew COI

 The Coast Guard proposes to amend its regulations to separately list an annual fee for renewals of endorsements upon the Certificate of Documentation. The Coast Guard is required to establish user fees for services related to the documentation of vessels. This proposed rule would separately list a fee of $26 to cover the current costs of the vessel documentation services provided by the Coast Guard.

Comments and related material must either be submitted to our online docket via on or before May 3, 2013 or reach the Docket Management Facility by that date.

Wicker, Vitter Introduce Bill to Roll Back Ethanol Requirement for Gasoline

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and David Vitter (R-La.) on February 14, introduced legislation to block an increase in the amount of ethanol that can be blended with gasoline. The bill would overturn Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waivers that allowed gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15). The higher blend of ethanol has been found to cause engine damage, reduce fuel efficiency, and contribute to higher corn prices and rising food costs for American consumers.

Managing Our Nations Fisheries 3- Speakers Announced

Senator Mark Begich (D-AK), Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA), and Eric Schwaab, speaking for the Administration, will be featured speakers at the much-anticipated Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries 3 conference, held May 7-9, 2013 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Coast Guard Struggles to Meet Demands as Sequestration Looms

The Coast Guard, already squeezed by dwindling resources, will be deeply affected by sequestration. Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp said it goes against the Coast Guard’s culture to admit it can’t do more with less, but he is encouraging his units to do just that, the Navy Times reported.

“We can’t keep giving this image that we can do more with less,” he said.

Implementation of MARPOL Annex V Amendments

The Coast Guard is publishing an interim rule with request for comments to conform regulations to the adopted MARPOL Annex V amendments which entered into force on January 1, 2013. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex V (Garbage) amendments prohibiting the discharge of garbage from vessels unless expressly allowed were adopted by the International Maritime Organization's Marine Environmental Protection Committee in July 2011 and implemented domestically through the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Under this rule, the only allowed discharges will be certain food wastes, cargo residues, cleaning agents and additives in wash waters, and animal carcasses.

This interim rule is effective April 1, 2013.

Fourth Circuit Strikes NMFS Biological Opinion regarding Pesticide Registrations

In a unanimous panel decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held (pdf) that a biological opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) regarding the effects of three pesticides on certain salmonids “was not the product of reasoned decision-making.”  The Fourth Circuit refused to “silently rubber stamp” an agency decision where NMFS failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for key aspects of that decision.  Further, the court refused to allow NMFS to offer post hoc rationalizations for its decision in the form of an expert affidavit and arguments advanced by counsel in the course of the litigation.  In contrast to the lower court decision, which deferred to NMFS and found that it is not the duty of the court to sit in judgment of scientific standards, the Fourth Circuit took a hard look at the agency determination even as it applied a deferential standard of review.