Hunter Statement from Hearing on the Future of Federal Navigation Programs
Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
Hearing on “Finding Your Way: The Future of Federal Navigation Programs”
February 4, 2014
(Remarks as Prepared)
The Subcommittee is meeting today to review the future of the federal government’s navigation programs. I want to thank and commend Ranking Member Garamendi for requesting the Subcommittee explore this important topic.
We rely on the navigation activities of the Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, and NOAA to provide for a safe, secure, and efficient marine transportation system that forms the backbone of our economy. The maritime sector contributes more than $650 billion annually to the U.S. gross domestic product and sustains more than 13 million jobs. Nearly 100 percent of our overseas trade enters or leaves the U.S. by vessels navigating the marine transportation system.
To maintain this economic output, facilitate the efficient movement of goods, protect the environment, and ensure the safety and security of marine transportation system, the navigable waters of the United States are charted, marked, and dredged on a regular basis. NOAA is tasked with surveying and producing over 1,000 nautical charts covering 95,000 miles of shoreline and 3.4 million square nautical miles of waters; the Corps is responsible for surveying and maintaining the depth of nearly 25,000 miles of federal navigation channels throughout the country; and the Coast Guard is charged with the maintenance of over 50,000 federal government-owned buoys, beacons, and other aids-to-navigation that mark 25,000 miles of waterways.
In fiscal year 2013, NOAA, the Corps, and the Coast Guard spent over $2.5 billion to carry out these navigation missions. In light of the current budget environment, I am interested in exploring ways to carry out these missions in a more cost effective manner, while also ensuring the safety, security, efficiency of our waterways.
In an age of electronic communications and digital technology, I am interested in the savings and efficiencies that can be gained through an e-navigation system, as well as the progress we have made in implementing e-navigation. However, I am also concerned that as an e-navigation system is built out, adequate redundancies and back-up systems are put in place to ensure safety.
In order to grow jobs and remain competitive in a global economy, we must build and maintain a world-class navigation system. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses what progress they have made toward making such a system a reality.
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