June 21, 2023

Ranking Members Larsen Statement from Hearing on Equipping the Coast Guard to Face Emerging Challenges

Washington, D.C. — The following are opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, from Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Rick Larsen (D-WA) during today’s hearing titled, “Review of the National Academy of Sciences Report ‘The Coast Guard’s Next Decade: An Assessment of Emerging Challenges and Statutory Needs.’”

More information on the hearing can be found here.

Ranking Member Larsen:

Thank you, Chair Webster. I am glad we are having this important hearing.

Before we start, I’d like to take a moment to recognize the ongoing operation being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy as well as partner nations in search of the lost dive submersible Titan. My heart breaks for the passengers on board as well as their families but I remain hopeful that the Coast Guard and their partners will turn this into a success mission.

The National Academies of Sciences report before us today highlights areas where the Coast Guard will likely grow over the next decade and recognizes that Congress must increase funding to ensure the Service is ready for the future.

While much of today’s hearing will be focused on ensuring the Coast Guard has the authority to address new maritime technology and developments, we must also acknowledge the current mission and resource needs of the Service. While the Coast Guard may already have the authority to act, it cannot remain mission ready if it lacks resources, funding and personnel.

Climate change is humanity’s next great challenge. It results in rising sea levels, extreme weather events and unpredictable environmental conditions. These challenges require our immediate attention and a concerted effort to ensure the safety and security of our nation's coastlines, waterways and maritime interests.

As the guardians of our nation's coasts, the Coast Guard has the duty to adapt and respond effectively to shifting maritime activity. By adequately resourcing the Coast Guard, we not only protect the lives and property of our citizens but ensure that the Service remains mission ready.

The melting Arctic presents new challenges and opportunities. As the polar ice recedes, new shipping routes emerge, opening avenues for maritime commerce. However, these routes also introduce a range of security and environmental concerns.

As the lead federal agency in the Arctic, the Coast Guard must bolster capabilities to ensure the safety and protection of these vulnerable waters. This includes enhancing icebreaking capabilities, investing in modern infrastructure and expanding surveillance and response capabilities to tackle potential incidents and emergencies.

Furthermore, port and vessel decarbonization is an important opportunity in maritime operations. As we move to a greener future, the Coast Guard must stay ahead of the curve in supporting and enforcing emissions regulations, promoting clean energy adoption and developing new technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of our vessels. This protects our environment while positioning the U.S. maritime industry to lead in the development and deployment of sustainable maritime practices on a global scale.

We need to invest in the Coast Guard's capabilities, ensuring it has the necessary resources, personnel and equipment to address emerging threats and demands. This includes sufficient funding for research and development, acquisition of advanced technologies and training programs that enable our Coast Guard personnel to adapt to evolving mission requirements.

The Coast Guard must continue to prioritize innovation and the development of cutting-edge technologies. Through research and development initiatives, we can find innovative solutions to the challenges at hand.

By embracing emerging technologies, such as unmanned systems and renewable energy sources, we can enhance the Coast Guard's capabilities while reducing our environmental impact.

By enhancing the Coast Guard's authorities to meet evolving mission demands, we ensure the safety and security of our coastlines, protect the environment and position the Coast Guard and the U.S. maritime industry as leaders in maritime operations and sustainability.

The Coast Guard must be equipped with the necessary tools, authorities and resources to address these critical challenges. Our actions today will help shape the future of our coastal communities, maritime industries and the well-being of our planet for generations to come.

I hope today we can have a productive, bipartisan discussion on how to better position our Coast Guard for the future.

Thank you and I yield back.