Training schools such as South Seattle College would benefit if the Maritime and Energy Workforce Technical Training Enhancement Act were to become law. The bill is sponsored by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. — all from states with a major maritime presence. The legislation is the latest response to concerns over the recruitment, training and retention of skilled workers in the maritime and energy industries. The legislation authorizes the Energy Department to make grants between $1 million and $1.5 million to eligible colleges to expand maritime and energy workforce training programs. The grants are for three-year periods. The grants can be used for such items as training related to maritime transportation, logistics, supply chain management, shipbuilding and ship repair; enhancement of workforce training to include certifications and apprenticeships for employment categories such as tankerman, deckhand, and able-bodied seaman; operation of ship simulators, fire suppression equipment, marine fueling equipment, and measuring and sampling instruments; and acquisition of maritime training equipment.
BP to pay $20.8 billion in final settlement
The U.S. Justice Department said recently that BP would pay $20.8 billion in civil penalties and damages to the federal government and five Gulf of Mexico states. The final Deepwater Horizon disaster settlement increased by $2 billion from negotiations in July. The agreement includes $5.5 billion in Clean Water Act penalties plus interest, “the largest civil penalty in the history of environmental law,” with 80% earmarked for restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast, Justice Department officials said in a statement. The company will pay $8.1 billion in natural resource damages, and provide up to $700 million more for any as yet undiscovered damages. BP has estimated its total costs at $54 billion from the 2010 Macondo well blowout that killed 11 workers and spilled oil for 87 days. “BP is receiving the punishment it deserves, while also providing critical compensation for the injuries it caused to the environment and the economy of the Gulf region,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in announcing the settlement Oct. 5. “The steep penalty should inspire BP and its peers to take every measure necessary to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again.”