Rep. Carter proposes bill to block NOAA from reducing boat speed limits, says it could damage Georgia ports

Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 10:15 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - U.S. Representative Buddy Carter has proposed a bill that would block the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from moving forward with their enforcement of speed limits for boats.

This proposed bill is asking to delay the funding for NOAA to enforce the speed limit for boats sizes 35-65 ft. long. While Representative Carter says that this poses a risk for the coastal economy, environment advocacy groups say this bill needs more time and research.

In June of this year, Representative Buddy Carter proposed a bipartisan bill that would put a stop to the funding of NOAA’s push to expand its current speed limit for vessels. Carter argues that this could be damaging for coastal Georgia ports.

“We certainly do not want to see any specific of the animal go extinct, but what NOAA is proposing here won’t work,” said Representative Carter.

NOAA’s proposition is to reduce its speed limits now limiting vessels 35-65 ft. to a speed of 11 mph, in hopes to help preserve the endangered species of the right whale. However, Georgia ports feel as if this speed reduction could cause a man-made supply chain issue.

“There was more cargo than could be processed by the shippers who were buying and taking that cargo but in this case, we would see the same kind of ship delays simply from the inability to bring ships in and out of ports,” said Jamie McCurry with the Georgia Ports Authority.

But both sides of the debate must remember one thing…

“I think it’s important to say that it is a proposed law-making. There is nothing yet that is defined and it can still be re-looked at. It can be refined in a way that does strike a better balance between the environment and the economy,” said McCurry.

That’s exactly what environmental preservationists at 100 Miles Georgia are hoping for.

“We owe it to all of us to have an open and transparent dialogue and yeah we can all say that yes this is a good rule, this is a safe and effective rule, but there are opportunities to compromise if we are willing to start with the facts,” said Catherin Ridley with 100 Miles Georgia.

And the fact is there are less than 350 right whales and this area is their only known breeding ground, according to NOAA, which is why preservations are worried.

“Unfortunately the legislation that Representative Carter has proposed is not only dangerous but it would put our North Atlantic Right Whales on the fast track to extinction. He would be hand-stringing the one agency with the power to come in and make a difference in a safe and effective way,” said Ridley.

A conversation, a comprise, and hopefully, common ground.

“We all have the same common goal, we want to save, the right whale but let’s do it in a way that not gonna be dangerous and is gonna be smart,” said Representative Carter.

Both sides have acknowledged the threat that the endangered right whales are under and hope to make a change soon.


Georgia congressman wants to block US agency from slowing boats to protect endangered whales

NOAA looking to modify speed rule aimed at helping endangered right whales