September 21, 2021

Volume XI, Number 264


September 20, 2021

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Congress Set to Discuss Maritime Decarbonization

Lawmakers have scheduled their first oversight hearing on the issue of decarbonization in the maritime industry. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Transportation is slated to meet on Thursday, 15 April, in a hearing titled "Practical Steps Toward a Carbon-Free Maritime Industry: Updates on Fuels, Ports, and Technology."

The hearing is one of the first congressional actions that narrowly focuses on the maritime industry, which is projected to be a busy 117th Congress for climate, sustainability, and decarbonization activity. President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have both cited climate issues among their top priorities and have called for a zero-carbon economy by 2050. Legislation has been introduced in this Congress that attempts to forge a greener maritime industry (see Title IV of CLEAN Future Act). For more in-depth coverage of this bill, our previous alert can be found here.

Outside of Washington, there has been progress related to decarbonization on the global stage. Through its Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC), the International Maritime Organization is expected to approve expansive decarbonization measures for international vessels in June at MEPC 76 that will ratchet down allowable emissions over time and almost surely lead to sweeping changes in the global maritime business. Key upcoming international emission reduction programs include the Energy Efficiency Design Index, the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index, and the Carbon Intensity Indicator.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation is the largest greenhouse gas source in the United States. With climate implications being included in the discussion of nearly every significant piece of transportation or energy legislation, this Congress will likely have more to say on the issue. While the maritime industry is not expected to be explicitly targeted by this Administration or Congress, it should not expect to be ignored either. Thursday’s hearing is only the first chapter of what will likely be a busy congressional session for maritime policy. 

Copyright 2021 K & L GatesNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 103

About this Author

Brody Garland Public Policy & Law K&L Gates Washington DC
Government Affairs Analyst

Brody Garland is a government affairs specialist in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. His practice focuses on transportation, infrastructure, and maritime policy issues. In his current capacity, he advises over 30 partners, associates, and policy practice professionals on legislative, regulatory, and political proceedings on client matters related to aviation, energy, infrastructure, maritime, telecommunications, trade, and transportation policies. His efforts have helped the K&L Gates policy team secure favorable bill language and millions of dollars in congressional appropriations...

Mark Ruge, Federal Regulations Attorney, KL Gates Law Firm

Mark Ruge is a lawyer in the Public Policy and Law practice group at the global law firm K&L Gates, one of the largest policy groups in the United States. He focuses his practice on the federal government, representing clients on policy matters before Congress, administrative issues before the federal agencies/departments, and, occasionally, regulatory disputes in the federal courts. He is involved in a broad range of maritime issues and issues related to the Great Lakes states. 

A veteran of more than a decade as a staffer on Capitol Hill, Mr. Ruge serves as counsel to the...

Darrell Conner, KL Gates Law Firm, Public Policy Attorney
Government Affairs Counselor

Mr. Conner is a government affairs counselor in the Public Policy and Law practice group at K&L Gates, one of the largest policy groups in the United States.  He has nearly 25 years of experience working with Congress and the executive branch, experience that he leverages to provide advice to clients on effectively managing their government and regulatory affairs, in particular helping clients by create alignment between their objectives and government policies.

Elle Stuart Transportation Lawyer KL Gates

 Elle Stuart is an associate in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, where she is a member of the public policy and law practice group. Elle focuses her practice on a wide range of federal regulatory, policy, and legislative matters dealing with transportation issues, with an emphasis on the maritime and postal sectors.

Prior to joining K&L Gates, Ms. Stuart was an extern in the Environmental Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice. She was a summer associate at K&L Gates in 2016.