Austin Golding to testify at D.C. hearing on maritime industry

Published 8:00 pm Friday, March 1, 2019

Golding Barge Line president Austin Golding will be testifying Wednesday in Washington, D.C., before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee at a hearing on the state of the U.S. maritime industry.

Golding’s appearance before the committee is at the invitation of U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, the committee chairman, to speak on inland waterways. “I was invited last week, and I’ve been working with the committee staff,” he said.

Infrastructure needs

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One of the issues he plans to discuss is the need for funding inland waterways infrastructure such as locks and dams.

“I think the need for funding is critical,” Golding said. “New construction projects and maintenance, and repair of existing locks and dams. I think the regulatory environment and the employment environment are favorable right now, but the impact of our infrastructure really could be a negative if we don’t do something quick.

“If it fails, it’s going to have a huge economic impact in a negative way. I want to emphasize where we are and make sure the funding to maintain it (infrastructure) is there.”

The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee addresses issues involving communications, highways, aviation, rail, shipping, transportation security, merchant marine, the Coast Guard, oceans, fisheries, weather, disasters, science, space, interstate commerce, tourism, consumer issues, economic development, technology, competitiveness, product safety and insurance.

Golding said the Wednesday hearing involves the economic importance of the U.S. maritime industry, the Jones Act, statutory and regulatory issues, the industry’s supply base and its work force.

Also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act was passed in order to stimulate the U.S. shipping industry in the wake of the First World War.

“The Jones Act states all vessels operating U.S. port to U.S. port have to be built in the U.S., owned by U.S. citizens and crewed by U.S. crews,” Golding said.

“Some people say it adds additional costs to transport and it’s protectionism, but the argument to that is that this industry is critical to national security.

“The shipbuilding and staffing of those vessels would be outsourced internationally overnight if that act is lifted. They’d just go cheaper. They’d build them cheaper and staff them, crew them with cheaper crews.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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