- Prior to the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year, President Obama called for expanded exploration and drilling on the US’s continental shelf. But, following the explosion, the Administration placed a temporary ban on drilling. Did you support the President’s call for increased exploration at the time? What, if anything, would you have done differently than the President in response to the spill?
- During the Deepwater Horizon incident, many in Washington and elsewhere blamed the Jones Act for slowing down the disaster response. Do you agree with this? Where do you stand on the Jones Act and various attempts to reform it?
- The US Navy currently operates more than 280 vessels. Should the current fleet be expanded, kept the same size, or reduced? Should Navy shipbuilding contracts always go to the lowest bidder, or should US shipyards be given preference?
- The American Waterways Operators estimates that the nearly 4,000 tug and towboats on the inland waterways transport 20-percent of the nation's coal and 60-percent of its grain each year in the more than 28,000 barges in active service. New England gets most of its heating oil, and the inland Pacific Northwest most of its diesel fuel by barge. The AWO says all this traffic contributes $5 billion a year to the US economy. Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers struggles to keep up with needed repairs to locks, dams, levees and other infrastructure necessary to carry this trade. What should be done to better maintain America’s inland waterways systems?
- Many American merchant mariners have found the TSA’s TWIC card program to be an onerous expense and pointless exercise that contributes little to America’s security, yet it is required by law. Do you favor repealing of the TWIC card requirement? What, if anything, should replace the program?
- With the US Coast Guard’s expanded security role following the 9/11 attacks, its resources for inspecting vessels and credentialing merchant mariners have been stretched thin. This has lead to safety concerns on one hand, and a sense that the Coast Guard has become more heavy handed and adversarial with American mariners on the other. Should the Coast Guard continue to perform these functions? If so, how? If not, do you favor transferring those functions to another agency, creating a new agency, or privatizing those functions?