I'm not a legal or government expert, but it looks like we may have options after all for Hawaii cruises! But we all know that nothing is guaranteed with politics, except more politics!
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From Seatrade Insider news at cruise-community.com
US coastwise rule-making is rejected
Proposed rules for coastwise cruises that unleashed a firestorm of controversy have been rejected by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Seatrade Insider has learned. OMB said the draft regulations calling for foreign-flag ships sailing between U.S. ports to spend at least 50% of the voyage in foreign ports did not demonstrate ‘compelling public need.’
In a letter, OMB said Customs and Border Protection’s proposed rule for the Passenger Vessel Services Act ‘presents no market failure or compelling public need, omits a statement of the costs and benefits of the rule-making, and does not include a discussion and analysis of regulatory alternatives, significant distributive impacts or uncertainties.’
The rule-making may be revised and resubmitted. It remains to be seen whether that will happen.
The Cruise Lines International Association would not discuss whether the matter is dead. CLIA ‘applauds the administration for taking a serious look at this issue and for reaching an interim decision balancing all interests in the matter,’ said spokeswoman Lanie Fagan.
However, an official with the American Association of Port Authorities told Seatrade Insider it’s ‘a pretty big hurdle’ to have to come back with new rule-making. OMB rejections are somewhat rare, according to Susan Monteverde, vp government affairs for AAPA.
She thinks OMB’s gave ‘a pretty definitive answer’ that indicates Customs and Border Protection ‘haven’t made a good business case for why this rule-making is a necessity.’ AAPA opposed the proposals out of concern they could drive away the international cruise business, harming ports and costing jobs.
AAPA met with OMB and Vice President Cheney’s office over the rule-making. ‘The issues of [negative economic] impact on California and Hawaii seemed to resonate with them,’ Monteverde told Seatrade Insider.
An OMB appointment list shows a number of parties met with administration officials in late July. They include a representative of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, AAPA’s Kurt Nagle, CLIA’s Michael Crye, Carnival Corp.’s Tom Dow, NCL Corp.’s Colin Veitch and officials from the U.S. Maritime Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and Customs and Border Protection.
The proposals were drafted at the instigation of MARAD over concern that NCL America’s U.S.-flag Hawaii business faced unfair competition from foreign-flag lines. At its peak, NCL America deployed three U.S.-flag vessels in Hawaii. Today only Pride of America operates in the trade.
U.S. labor unions and Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye were among the supporters of the rule-making, but scores of other senators, mayors and ports warned that it could have a wide-ranging negative economic impact on the cruise business as a whole.
A spokesman for the Seafarers International Union was not immediately able to comment because he had not seen the OMB decision. Seatrade Insider was not immediately able to reach a Customs official involved in the rule-making. An NCL comment is awaited.
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