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S. 576: Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act of 2021


The text of the bill below is as of Dec 16, 2021 (Reported by Senate Committee).


II

Calendar No. 197

117th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 576

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 3, 2021

(for herself, Mr. Young, Mr. Peters, Mr. Casey, and Ms. Smith) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

December 16, 2021

Reported by , with an amendment

Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the part printed in italic

A BILL

To amend title 14, United States Code, to require the Coast Guard to conduct icebreaking operations in the Great Lakes to minimize commercial disruption in the winter months, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act of 2021.

2.

Great Lakes icebreaking operations

(a)

In general

Subchapter IV of chapter 5 of title 14, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

564.

Great Lakes icebreaking operations

(a)

Icebreaking operations

The Commandant shall conduct icebreaking operations in the Great Lakes in accordance with the standard for icebreaking operations under subsection (b).

(b)

Standard for icebreaking operations

In carrying out subsection (a)—

(1)

except as provided in paragraph (2), the Commandant shall keep ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes open to navigation not less than 90 percent of the hours that commercial vessels and ferries attempt to transit such ice-covered waterways; and

(2)

in a year in which the Great Lakes are not open to navigation because of ice of a thickness that occurs on average only once every 10 years, the Coast Guard shall keep ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes open to navigation at least 70 percent of the hours that commercial vessels and ferries attempt to transit such ice-covered waterways.

(c)

Report to Congress

(1)

Deadline

Not later than July 1 of each year, the Commandant shall submit to Congress a report on the icebreaking operations conducted by the Coast Guard in the Great Lakes for the fiscal year.

(2)

Content

The report required under paragraph (1) shall include the total number of hours that United States icebreakers conducted icebreaking operations in each of the types of Great Lakes waters described in paragraph (3) and the total number of hours that Canadian icebreakers conducted icebreaking operations in the type of Great Lakes waters described in subparagraphs (3)(A) and (3)(C).

(3)

Types of Great Lakes waters

The types of waters described in this paragraph are—

(A)

United States waters, excluding waters described in subparagraph (C);

(B)

Canadian waters, excluding waters described in subparagraph (C); and

(C)

frequent border crossing waters.

(d)

Coordination with industry

The Commandant shall coordinate Great Lakes icebreaking operations with operators of commercial vessels.

(e)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

Commercial vessel

The term commercial vessel means any privately owned cargo vessel of at least 500 tons, as measured under section 14502 of title 46 or an alternate tonnage measured under section 14302 of such title as prescribed by the Secretary under section 14104 of such title, operating in the Great Lakes during the winter season.

(2)

Great Lakes

The term Great Lakes

(A)

has the meaning given such term in section 118 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1268); and

(B)

includes harbors.

(3)

Ice-covered waterway

The term ice-covered waterway means any portion of the Great Lakes in which commercial vessels operate that is 70 percent or greater covered by ice, but does not include any waters adjacent to piers or docks for which commercial icebreaking services are available and adequate for the ice conditions.

(4)

Open to navigation

The term open to navigation means navigable to the extent necessary to meet the reasonable demands of commerce, minimize delays to passenger ferries, extricate vessels and persons from danger, prevent damage due to flooding, and conduct other Coast Guard missions as required.

(5)

Reasonable demands of commerce

The term reasonable demands of commerce means the safe movement of commercial vessels transiting ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes, regardless of type of cargo, at a speed consistent with the design capability of Coast Guard icebreakers operating in the Great Lakes.

(6)

Frequent border crossing waters

The term frequent border crossing waters means the United States waters and Canadian waters of—

(A)

Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior;

(B)

the St. Mary’s River;

(C)

the Detroit and St. Clair rivers system; and

(D)

Western Lake Erie from the Detroit River to Pelee Passage.

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of analysis for chapter 5 of title 14, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

564. Great Lakes icebreaking operations.

.

(c)

Report

Not later than the first July 1 after the first winter in which the Commandant of the Coast Guard is subject to the requirements of section 564 of title 14, United States Code, the Commandant shall submit to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a report on the cost to the Coast Guard of meeting the requirements of such section.

3.

Great Lakes icebreaker acquisition

(a)

Authorization

Section 8107(a) of the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020 (Public Law 116–283) is amended by striking $160,000,000 and inserting $350,000,000.

(b)

Exemption

Notwithstanding sections 1105(a)(2), 1131, and 1132 of title 14, United States Code, and the requirements in the Competition in Contracting Act (10 U.S.C. 2304), and subject to the availability of appropriations, the Commandant shall acquire the icebreaker described in section 8107(a) of the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020 (Public Law 116–283) through other than full and open competition in an accelerated timeframe and award the contract on the basis of contractor qualification and price.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act of 2021.

2.

Great Lakes icebreaking operations

(a)

In general

Subchapter IV of chapter 5 of title 14, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

564.

Great Lakes icebreaking operations

(a)

GAO report

(1)

In general

Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this section, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report on the Coast Guard Great Lakes icebreaking program.

(2)

Elements

The report required under paragraph (1) shall include the following:

(A)

An evaluation of the economic impact related to vessel delays or cancellations associated with ice coverage on the Great Lakes.

(B)

An evaluation of mission needs.

(C)

An evaluation of the impact that the proposed standards described in subsection (b) would have on—

(i)

Coast Guard operations in the Great Lakes;

(ii)

Northeast icebreaking missions; and

(iii)

inland waterway operations.

(D)

A fleet mix analysis for meeting such proposed standards.

(E)

A description of any resources necessary to support the fleet mix resulting from such fleet mix analysis, including for crew and operating costs.

(F)

Recommendations to the Commandant for improvements to the Great Lakes icebreaking program, including with respect to facilitating commerce and meeting all Coast Guard mission needs.

(b)

Proposed standards for icebreaking operations

The proposed standards described in this subsection are the following:

(1)

Except as provided in paragraph (2), the Commandant shall keep ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes open to navigation not less than 90 percent of the hours that commercial vessels and ferries attempt to transit such ice-covered waterways.

(2)

In a year in which the Great Lakes are not open to navigation because of ice of a thickness that occurs on average only once every 10 years, the Commandant shall keep ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes open to navigation at least 70 percent of the hours that commercial vessels and ferries attempt to transit such ice-covered waterways.

(c)

Report by Commandant

Not later than 90 days after the date on which the Comptroller General submits the report under subsection (a), the Commandant shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report that includes the following:

(1)

A plan for Coast Guard implementation of any recommendation made by the Comptroller General under subparagraph (F) of subsection (a)(2) the Commandant considers appropriate.

(2)

With respect to any recommendation made under such subparagraph that the Commandant declines to implement, a justification for such decision.

(3)

A review of, and a proposed implementation plan for, the results of the fleet mix analysis under subparagraph (D) of that subsection.

(4)

Any proposed modifications to the standards for icebreaking operations in the Great Lakes.

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of analysis for chapter 5 of title 14, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

564. Great Lakes icebreaking operations.

.

3.

Database on icebreaking operations in the Great Lakes

(a)

In general

The Commandant of the Coast Guard (referred to in this Act as the Commandant) shall establish and maintain a database for collecting, archiving, and disseminating data on icebreaking operations and commercial vessel transit in the Great Lakes during ice season.

(b)

Elements

The database required under subsection (a) shall include the following:

(1)

Attempts by commercial vessels and ferries to transit ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes that are unsuccessful because of inadequate icebreaking.

(2)

The period of time that each commercial vessel or ferry was unsuccessful at transiting due to inadequate icebreaking.

(3)

The amount of time elapsed before each such commercial vessel or ferry was successfully broken out of the ice and whether it was accomplished by the Coast Guard or commercial icebreaking assets.

(4)

Relevant communications of each such commercial vessel or ferry with the Coast Guard and commercial icebreaking services during such period.

(5)

A description of any mitigating circumstance, such as Coast Guard icebreaker diversions to higher priority missions that may have contributed to the amount of time described in paragraph (3).

(c)

Voluntary reporting

Any reporting by operators of commercial vessels or ferries under this Act shall be voluntary.

(d)

Public availability

The Commandant shall make the database available to the public on a publicly accessible internet website of the Coast Guard.

(e)

Consultation with industry

With respect to the Great Lakes icebreaking operations of the Coast Guard and the development of the database required under subsection (a), the Commandant shall consult operators of commercial vessels and ferries.

(f)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

Commercial vessel

The term commercial vessel means any privately owned cargo vessel of at least 500 tons, as measured under section 14502 of title 46, or an alternate tonnage measured under section 14302 of such title as prescribed by the Secretary under section 14104 of such title, operating in the Great Lakes during the winter season.

(2)

Great Lakes

The term Great Lakes means the United States waters of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, their connecting waterways, and their adjacent harbors.

(3)

Ice-covered waterway

The term ice-covered waterway means any portion of the Great Lakes in which commercial vessels operate that is 70 percent or greater covered by ice, but does not include any waters adjacent to piers or docks for which commercial icebreaking services are available and adequate for the ice conditions.

(4)

Open to navigation

The term open to navigation means navigable to the extent necessary to meet the reasonable demands of commerce, minimize delays to passenger ferries, extricate vessels and persons from danger, prevent damage due to flooding, and conduct other Coast Guard missions as required.

(5)

Reasonable demands of commerce

The term reasonable demands of commerce means the safe movement of commercial vessels transiting ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes, regardless of type of cargo, at a speed consistent with the design capability of Coast Guard icebreakers operating in the Great Lakes.

(g)

Public briefing

Not later than the first July 1 after the first winter in which the Commandant is subject to the requirements of section 564 of title 14, United States Code, the Commandant shall publish on a publicly accessible internet website of the Coast Guard a briefing on the cost to the Coast Guard of meeting the requirements of such section.

4.

Great Lakes icebreaker acquisition

Of the amounts authorized to be appropriated by section 4902(2)(A)(ii) of title 14, United States Code, $350,000,000 shall be made available to the Commandant for fiscal year 2022 for the acquisition of a Great Lakes icebreaker at least as capable as Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw (WLBB–30).

December 16, 2021

Reported with an amendment