AWO sets priorities at New Orleans meeting

The American Waterways Operators showed support for the hurricane-ravaged New Orleans area recently by holding its annual Southern Region meeting in the city.

“We’ve had a long relationship with New Orleans,” said Chuck King, AWO chairman. “Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama have suffered a great deal.”

At the meeting, Merritt Lane of Canal Barge Co. Inc., New Orleans, urged members to submit Permission to Solicit Forms for contributions to the AWO political action committee. 

Lane is actively encouraging members to support the AWO PAC with the aim of increasing Southern Region contributions, which is one of the organization’s priorities for 2006. 

“We’re not buying influence,” he told the group. “We’re buying a certain amount of access.”

The night before the meeting, the group held a small fundraiser for Sen. David Vitter, R-La., during which over $20,000 was raised for the Louisiana senator’s campaign fund.

Other priorities for 2006 for AWO’s Southern Region include:

• Institutionalize the congressional grassroots program as a key component of AWO’s advocacy program. Work with AWO members in the Southern Region to establish and strengthen relationships with targeted members of Congress.

• Strengthen the Coast Guard-AWO Safety Partnership at all levels within the USCG’s Eighth District and work to ensure that Coast Guard approaches to security at the Sector Commands and Eighth District are consistent.

• Effectively represent AWO membership on issues of importance in Southern Region state legislatures and state regulatory agencies. Encourage Louisiana and Texas state environmental agencies to adopt industry’s best practices to reduce inadvertent cargo vapor emissions, rather than pursue state regulation of emissions.

• Cultivate and strengthen relationships with regional waterways organizations whose goals and values are consistent with those of AWO. Work in conjunction with these organizations on common issues of importance.  

  — Ken Hocke 

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