WASHINGTON, D.C.—We have a full docket today, and some very important bills up for consideration: bills that will help save lives, protect property and preserve our oceans and fragile ecosystems. I want to briefly summarize the bills and accepted amendments. We have eight bills and several nominations to consider today.
We will begin with S. 453, the Motorcoach Safety Act of 2011, a bill to make bus travel safer and more secure. This bill includes common sense safety measures, such as improved vehicle safety, improved driver training and testing, and better oversight to make sure that only the safest drivers and bus companies are allowed to operate. The bill is a good start—and that is why I am supporting it. However, there are some additional things I would like to see done with this bill, including extending some of these safety provisions to all motorcoaches and other commercial vehicles. I will let Senator Hutchison discuss her bill in greater detail.
Our next bill is S. 275, the Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2011. This bill addresses many of my long-standing concerns about pipeline safety. As we’ve seen this past year—most vividly in the San Bruno disaster—pipeline explosions are deadly and destructive. More needs to be done to strengthen oversight and address safety vulnerabilities. I thank my colleague, Senator Frank Lautenberg, for his tireless work on this issue, and look forward to moving this legislation forward.
Today we’ll also consider two bills to help prepare and protect us from natural disasters. The weather-provoked tragedies across the South and Midwest make it clear just how timely these bills are, and how important these investments are to make.
Senator Boxer’s bill, the Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2011, will help protect lives and property in the event of an earthquake or severe windstorm. Senator Nelson’s bill, the National Hurricane Research Initiative of 2011, will help improve building codes and get America’s infrastructure hurricane-ready.
Today we’ll also consider a number of bills to protect our oceans and marine life. These bills are: S. 485, the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve Boundary Modification Act; S. 46, the Coral Reef Conservation Amendments Act of 2011; and S. 52, the International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act of 2011. I will let bill sponsors discuss them further.
The last bill we’ll consider today is S. 363, Senator Wicker’s bill to allow a land exchange between NOAA and the city of Pascagoula, Mississippi.
And last, but not least, we’ll consider the nomination of: Scott C. Doney, to be Chief Scientist of NOAA and several nominations for promotion in the U.S. Coast Guard.
So with that, I will turn to Senator Hutchison.