TOPIC: Coast Guard

Great Lakes ballast breakthrough

shipboard ballast tank

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and conservation groups have settled a 2009 lawsuit requiring EPA to develop water ballast pollution standards for the shipping industry by the end of 2012 and start to enforce those standards by the next year. Dan Egan of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that “the announcement was just the latest indication that a new era of environmental protection is on the not-too-distant horizon for the Great Lakes.” (more…)

Assessing legal blame in the Gulf

Deepwater Horizon

Wayne Andersen, a retired U.S. District Court judge in Chicago, has started to preside over a federal board investigating the Gulf oil spill, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Ameet Sachdev. The public hearings will determine who was at fault when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Andersen is largely unfamiliar with the oil-drilling process, a contrast from a federal panel that is mostly made up members from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. He got the job because (more…)

Another ‘BP Squad’ should investigate dispersants

The Obama administration has deployed the ‘BP Squad’ of federal investigators to the Gulf to probe whether there was any wrongdoing on the part of government regulators or private companies related to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

As Peter Henning points out in The New York Times, the criminal probe focuses mostly on (more…)


Washington pushed hard to help North Dakota and Minnesota deal with the rising waters of the Red River. Monica Davey of the New York Times brings information and insights about all the outsiders ready to pitch in:

Along with teams from the Coast Guard, the Department of Health and Human Services, Customs and Border Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers, hundred of Federal Emergency Management Agency Employees were dispatched to the two states, including Nancy L. Ward, the acting administrator of FEMA.  And this was all before the worst of the flooding was predicted to hit.

Wait — the federal government got involved in this problem BEFORE IT BECAME A COMPLETE DISASTER?  Is that even POSSIBLE?  Who knew that government could actually solve problems?

Truth is the good people of Fargo, ND felt a little overwhelmed by the help.  Fargo’s city administrator told Davey that "we had federal people . . . and National Guard people on the ground to the point where they were getting in the way" but he also said "that’s the way we want it."  The locals were quite ready to try and deal with this problem — including thousands of volunteers who stuffed sandbags and built temporary levees against the flood waters.  But they appreciated the help from federal authorities and people from out of state.  Here’s a case of local and federal authorities working together to stop a major threat to people’s lives and livelihoods in its tracks. -NH

Contracting as a Way of Life

How can we fix the contracting mess that leads to mistakes and wasteful spending across the government?  By training more people to work in government as contracting specialists.   In the category of obvious and urgent reforms, this one’s at the front of the file, and the U.S. Army seems ready to act.

Coast Guard Cutters Can’t Cut It

Another episode of just what we don’t want to see — more bad news about our collective inability to manage government contract work effectively.

This time our Coast Guard, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General, apparently has contracted for billions of dollars of cutters that are not seaworthy.

When will someone step forth and save us from ourselves?  How can we get a handle on this problem?  Yet, the matter deals with more than contract administration.  There are technical issues which are not being conquered.  It is not merely about the government v. non-government staff.  It’s not like someone who chooses to work for Uncle Sam loses 20 IQ points and can’t function as well as her or his counterpart on the outside.  Contractors employed on this project can’t seem to solve apparent design deficiencies, although there may even be some debate over the extent or existence of any flaws.

The Washington Post article tells this important tale.

Fred Apelquist, contributing editor


From a piece I wrote in 1980:

In my first annual report on the Lewes-Cape May ferry that crosses the
mouth of the Delaware Bay, I complained that the sign reading “Life
Boats This Way” pointed the 700 passengers to two boats with a capacity
of 25 each.  In my next report, I noted an improvement: the “Life
Boats This Way” sign had been painted over.  this year the signs
are back, and beside the two life boats ae six life rafts, each of
which also carries 25 people.  So now the 700 people can charge up
narrow stairways of the vessel — which the United States Coast Guard
continues to certify — and compete for a total of 200 places in the
boats and rafts….If you are saying 200 places are better than 50,
instead of why not 700, then you should immediately apply for a
goverrnment job. And if you are the sort who said why not 700, and you
went to work for the govenrment anyway, it wouldn't be long before you
would be congratulating yourself on having reached 200. 

Topics: Coast Guard

Coast Guard and Ethan Allen

Re: How Did The Coast Guard Get It So Right in New Orleans and So Wrong on Lake George?
by Anonymous on 2005.10.07 12:53PM EDT  | 
It is funny. The ship owners such as Shoreline
Tours say they rely on the coast gaurd to tell them how many passengers
are appropriate on a boat liek the ethan allen. Shouln't the ship owner
know the answer to that question based on experience. More here…
Topics: Coast Guard

Coast Guard

Read the story.  While not blaming the CG, it does
implicate their authority to regulate maximum load -- and it
specifically says the CG is doing the tests on the sister vessel. 
Is the story wrong?  If so, let me know and I'll contact the
Detroit News.  
Topics: Coast Guard

Re Coast Guard

Re: How did the Coast Guard get it so right in New Orleans and So Wrong on Lake George?
by Anonymous on 2005.10.06 05:07PM EDT  
While it is true the Coast Guard does some
regulation of boats, in this case the boat was on inland waters- not in
“navatable” waterways. Therfore Coast Guard does not regulate, it is
soley the responsibility of state and local government.

The Coast Guard only regulates those involved in interstate commerce-
remember the “commerce clause” of the U.S. Constitution? That is why.
Setting out on a small lake in a privately owned boat to give some
people a ride on the lake is not “interstate commerce”, and therefore
not federal jurisdiction.

I am saddened that people died. But let's not over react and suddenly impose massive new regualtion on the operators of boats.

Topics: Coast Guard