David Matsuda –the President’s pick to serve as Maritime Administrator–is ready to serve.
He returned to familiar turf this week when he appeared at his nomination hearing. He worked for the same committee that will be voting on his nomination. His work in the Senate had to do with railroads, ports, transit, trucking and aviation. He worked for a senator whose state’s second largest employment sector is logistics and which is host to the New York Harbor and Delaware River gateways.
Since mid 2009 David Matsuda has been running the Maritime Administration as the top political appointee at the modal agency. He has the confidence of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who first knew him as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy.
Importantly for MARAD–and for the marine transportation system–he has knowledge and experience to help shape a new transportation policy for the administration to recommend to Congress. That transportation policy has to include, for the first time, a national freight policy. And by rights it should put the marine transportation system squarely in that policy.
David Matsuda’s prepared statement for the hearing was brief and straightforward. He reminded the committee that the “impacts of our nation’s maritime industry are not limited to coastal states.”
“Items brought in by ship make their way to store shelves and factory lines throughout the nation. Some raw materials we mine, goods we produce, and agricultural products we grow for export leave through our seaports or travel down rivers or across great lakes to distant markets. In all, 36 states have a maritime port—whether it’s on a river, lake, gulf, or ocean. Merchant mariners live in just about every state in the Union, and midshipmen nominated by you and your colleagues to study at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy can claim home to all but one state. Some states have shipyards or marine manufacturers which can be the largest sources of jobs in an entire community or region.”
He noted acknowledged the challenges.
“Today’s industry is struggling with many tough challenges: a lagging economy, climate change, the threats of invasive species, piracy and other security issues, a greatly expanded Panama Canal opening in 2014, and an aging workforce, to name a few.”
One of the challenges facing the next Administrator is to make something of the marine highway program. It is just getting started. With no assurance of a reliable funding stream for the program, MARAD–hopefully with strong support from the Secretary’s office–will have to make the most of its modest resources to develop a credible and creative program that will be central to MARAD’s mission for many years to come.
“I feel my experience working within the federal government, and especially working in the Senate, has allowed me a broad understanding of how these challenges can be approached successfully: by working with all stakeholders in good faith and with transparency in decision-making.”
We wish him well. Pbea