1) 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?
It is my understanding that the oil industry is private, so the president
“calling” for expanded exploration and drilling really means that he’s calling for the gov’t departments
that restrict exploration and drilling to ease up and let these things go on without bureaucratic interference. I agree that
if US oil companies have reason to believe there is oil to be found, they are the cleanest, safest, most qualified entities
in the world to have looking for it. At the same time, I agree that if these companies have determined that domestic supply
can aid in meeting domestic demand, they are the cleanest, safest, most qualified entities in the world to have drilling for
American oil companies, and other companies which operate in industries that are potentially hazardous to the environment,
operate with greater concern for the environment than any other companies around the world. I believe it is more hazardous
to the environment to cease American exploration and drilling, while the world’s demand for oil is met by countries
that do not have nature’s best interest at heart.
2) 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?
From what I understand about the Jones Act,
I would have to say I support it. Having considered the impact on the price of goods shipped to Hawaii,
Alaska, and our territories, I find that the negative effects of repealing the Jones Act would
far outweigh the benefits. As for my belief that the Act slowed down the disaster response, I find it very hard to measure.
I don't see how ships regulated in the movement between US ports would affect the movement of ships engaged in the act of
clean up. I would have to see reports suggesting how the effort was hindered. Until then, I could not say that it was.
From my understanding of the law, US shipbuilders are not restricted from building ships in other
places, those ships just couldn't be used to move goods and/or passengers between US ports. They're still able to compete
internationally, on the international market, if they choose to purchase facilities and hire workers in foreign lands-- as
well, they hold a virtual monopoly within the US for ships to be used in the types of transport regulated by the Jones Act.
There is no question that union workers in the industry are glad to have the laws in place. Companies that purchase US-built
ships for this purpose stand to lose the most by repealing the act. If international crews and ships are introduced into the
market, operating at a fraction of the cost incurred by buying and hiring US ships and crews, one can easily imagine the financial
turmoil within the industry.
These facts, even in combination, are not enough to win my support for repealing
or keeping the law. What ultimatelymoves me to keep the law in place, is national security. This
is the world we live in now-- post 9/11. To introduce international fleets into a market where so many vessels would be coming
and going, would create a heavy risk to national security at a time when our Coast Guard is already heavily burdened with
inspections, credentialing, and emergency situations. Ultimately, I feel it is necessary for government to play a part
in issues of of national security, and the citizens of Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, etc., can either
pay a few bucks less for their imported food and supplies, or they can sleep well at night with the peace of mind that comes
from knowing that the cereal they feed their children was not delivered on a foreign-owned and operated ship that hauled
barrels of nuclear waste out of China two weeks before they loaded up that
3) 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
My answer to the size of
the fleet would depend on the use of the vessels currently in operation. I cannot imagine a reason to reduce the size of the
fleet, unless there are vessels that simply are not utilized even in training.
Whenever the gov’t spends money, it should be spent in America. Even if it costs more to build ships here,
putting American shipbuilders to work acts as a sort of stimulus to the economy. Taxpayers’ money sent overseas hurts,
no matter what the reason.
Beyond jobs and economy,
there is also a technological advantage to using US shipyards, conversely, a technological disadvantage is created when employing
foreign companies to build them.
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 Northwestmost 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?
The answer to infrastructure maintenance, whether we’re talking
about roadway, utilities, riparian avenues, or otherwise, lies simply in money management. Our economy is in terrible condition
currently and I believe we’ve squandered our good fortune on wasteful and unnecessary spending. Like our homes, these
vital systems require maintenance to ensure their longevity-- this means spending money to make repairs and upgrades when
necessary and when possible. People who take pride in, and care for, their homes and vehicles understand the importance of
preventative maintenance. Waiting for tragedy and reacting to it, is a poor substitute.
The $5 billion contributed to the US economy via these waterways represents one-tenth of the money our gov’t
sends to foreign countries every year in aid. Cutting foreign aid to non-allies for two years would provide a huge boost to
the economy if it were spent employing US contractors helping build America, rather than padding the governments of foreign
nations to build… other countries.
5) 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’ssecurity,
yet it is required by law. Do you favor repealing of the TWIC card requirement? What, if anything, should replace the program?
Peace is the only thing that can sufficiently replace our systems of security. Paraphrasing Ben Franklin, "He
who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither." Clearly, Mr. Franklin never fathomed
having to engage religious zealot suicide bombers attacking innocent civilians while wearing
civilian clothing as they walk freely through a nation paralyzed by political correctness.
As a person who travels occasionally on airplanes, I can tell you that I, personally, don't mind the TSA's efforts
in that arena. Terrorism is a very real threat, but it doesn't seem like a threat that's often thwarted by policing our
own citizens-- but is it?
The airline industry
requires such security because it accommodates international passengers every day on many flights.
I do not agree with the extent of the measures employed by some of its agents (let's face it, some people do not hold
positions of authority with great humility). I do believe it's possible, however, that the transportation industry, in
the eyes of terrorist organizations, has been removed from the list of easy targets thanks to the programs initiated
by the TSA. Saying that the TWIC program contributes little to security is like saying we don't need to immunize
our children against chicken pox because we haven't had an outbreak of chicken pox in years, so obviously, immunization is
has the distinct displeasure of living within the time of our nation's history that experienced the attacks of 9/11. We are
the unlucky few who have a basis for comparison between life before, and life after the attacks. We remember what it felt
like to feel free from such horrors and to operate without onerous expenses and seemingly pointless
exercises to conduct the same business we conducted with relative ease and prosperity little more than just a decade
ago. The tragedy hits us twice for this reason. It truly is, for Americans, a different world now. To go back to living with
ignorance and insecurity after having learned of our enemys' will to penetrate into the heart of
our country and sacrifice their own lives in the pursuit of executing thousands of innocent civilians would be, to put it
simply, tragically stupid.
It is, ironically, the technological advancements of the transportation
industry that allows our enemies to strike at us with their suicidal terror missions, and that industry, along with the
rest of us, will share in some reasonable burden of ensuring the maximum degree of security possible at the cost of our stolen
freedoms until such time as peace is achieved on Earth. In short, get comfortable-- kids have to wear helmets when they ride
their bicycles too. We're adults. We should maintain a greater understanding of the big picture and do our best to comply
with the necessary measures implemented to ensure our citizens' safety during these difficult times.
6) 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?
Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, this is the post-9/11 world we live in. The US Naval Coast Guard is the best
equipped, funded, and organized entity on the planet to perform the duties of national security on the water. Given the ardor
of some world leaders with their will to develop nuclear technology for the purpose of causing havoc on peaceful nations,
and the capacity for large-scale catastrophe being delivered via freight-liner, I believe it is essential to the protection
of American lives, that the Coast Guard continue to perform its “expanded” duties regarding inspections and other
As for their
resources wearing thin, it just so happens that I know a place where we can find some 30 million people looking for work right
I am adamantly opposed to creating new agencies. A new agency means more bureaucracy, more laws, more funding,
more paperwork, and less productivity. I would much rather see a more competent, experienced, well-trained organization like
the US Coast Guard reinforced to meet its goals, than to create another opportunity for government officials to make things
more difficult than they need to be for everyone involved.
Nor do I like the idea of privatizing these functions-- there is way too much potential
for fraud, bribery, and unnecessary animosity among private businesses. One of the few duties specifically described within
the Constitution regarding powers of the federal government is the duty to protect America’s citizens from threats.
Outsourcing this duty to private companies seems like too much potential for disaster.