Instead of expanding the service to better accomplish its missions, the U.S. Coast Guard could lose its maritime safety arm if a proposal under discussion in a House committe shifts that responsibility to a new agency. Here's why that's a bad idea.
The long-standing comprehensive oversight of homeland ports by the U.S. Coast Guard is in jeopardy. Congressman James Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat and chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is leading discussions about whether to split the Coast Guard in two by moving many of the service's maritime safety responsibilities and authorities to a new, smaller agency. While no legislation has been introduced yet, the issue is "still in debate by both parties in the committee," according to Representative Oberstar's office. The mere discussion of such a move has led Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen to weigh in, emphasizing in a recent message: "This is not in the best interest of the Coast Guard or the nation."