Congressional Roundup: biodiesel, fishing COVID masks, LifeBOAT Act

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It’s May 27, 2021. Here is a roundup of recent news from New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation.

Congressional dome. Credit/Wikimedia Commons

Shaheen adds name to Biodiesel bill

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced legislation with a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to support the biodiesel industry and strengthen America’s energy independence. The bipartisan Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act of 2021 would extend the current federal biodiesel tax credit program through 2025.

“Biodiesel fuel reduces harmful carbon emissions, bolsters our nation’s energy independence and supports more than 60,000 jobs across the country, including here in New Hampshire,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m pleased to join Senators Grassley and Cantwell in introducing legislation that would extend the biodiesel tax credit and ensure this fuel continues to play an important role in meeting America’s energy needs of today and tomorrow.”

Joining Shaheen, Grassley and Cantwell in introducing the legislation are Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tina Smith (D-MN).

Hassan to CDC: Why do Fishermen need masks?

Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) are calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Coast Guard to change mask requirements for crews on commercial fishing vessels.

In a letter to the CDC and Coast Guard, the Senators discuss the latest CDC mask guidance and write, “Many fishing vessel operators were therefore understandably dismayed to learn that the most recent CDC guidance does not loosen restrictions for fishing vessels that are staffed by fully vaccinated persons and are not passenger-carrying vessels as defined under 42 CFR 70.1.”

The Senators go on to discuss the concerns that they have heard from fishermen: “It is worth noting that wearing a mask on a fishing vessel may increase safety risks for operators and crew. Fishing vessels frequently use loud motors or machinery that can make it difficult for crew members to hear one another, so they may rely on lip-reading to improve communication and work together safely. Masks are also frequently wet from sea spray, which can make it more difficult to breathe. This is a condition that the CDC has generally recognized is problematic. Despite these facts, fishermen have continued to abide by the order and guidance to address the public health threat posed by COVID-19. We urge the CDC and the Coast Guard to work swiftly together to reconsider their guidance as it applies to commercial fishing vessels in order to promote the safe operation of fishing vessels and safety of the crew.”

Senators Hassan and Murkowski sent the letter after hearing from New Hampshire fishermen at the Yankee Fishermen’s Cooperative and members of the Alaska fishing industry about the dangers of wearing a mask while they work. Senators Hassan and Murkowski raised these concerns directly with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky during a recent hearing, and their letter further pushes for immediate action.

The full letter can be read here

Hassan and Shaheen support LifeBOAT Act

U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined their colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Life Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment (LifeBOAT) Act, which would establish a permanent funding stream to provide and expand access to substance use disorder treatment.

“Substance misuse is one of the most pressing public health challenges facing New Hampshire, and we must continue to invest in our communities, which are on the frontlines of this fight,” said Hassan. “The bipartisan LifeBOAT Act will help support the work that we are doing in New Hampshire by providing additional funding to ensure that more people can get the help they need, when they need it.”

“COVID-19 intensified the substance use disorder epidemic in New Hampshire and throughout the country. Families, providers and communities bore witness to how one public health crisis exacerbated another. As we work to put COVID behind us, enhancing our response to the substance use disorder epidemic must be a key part of our recovery effort,” said Shaheen. “That’s why I’m glad to partner with Senator Manchin and this group of lawmakers to reintroduce our legislation that would boost resources for law enforcement, local leaders and other frontline workers who are fighting to turn the tide of the substance use disorder crisis. Granite Staters and Americans across the country who are struggling need help now more than ever, which is why it is essential that Congress take action. This legislation is a meaningful step in the right direction and I urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to join us in this effort.”