[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 156 (Monday, August 15, 2022)]
[Notices]
[Pages 50085-50087]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-17582]


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FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION

[Docket No. 22-19]


Request for Information

AGENCY: Federal Maritime Commission.

ACTION: Request for Information.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Maritime Commission seeks public comment on 
whether congestion of the carriage of goods has created an emergency 
situation causing a substantial, adverse effect on the competitiveness 
and reliability of the international ocean transportation supply 
system. Information received in response to this request will help 
inform the Commission's decision on whether an emergency situation 
exists, and whether to issue an emergency order to address any such 
situation.

DATES: Submit comments on or before September 14, 2022.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. 22-19, by 
email to: [email protected]. For comments, include in the subject line: 
``Docket No. 22-19, Request for Information.'' Comments should be 
attached to the email as a Microsoft Word or text-searchable PDF 
document.
     Instructions: For detailed instructions on submitting 
comments, including requesting confidential treatment of comments, see 
the Public Participation heading of the Supplementary Information 
section of this document. Note that all comments received will be 
posted without change

[[Page 50086]]

to the Commission's website unless the commenter has requested 
confidential treatment.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William Cody, Secretary; Phone: (202) 
523-5908; Email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    On June 16, 2022, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (``OSRA 
2022'') became law.\1\ Section 18 of OSRA 2022 authorizes the Federal 
Maritime Commission (the Commission) to issue an emergency order 
requiring any common carrier or marine terminal operator to share 
certain information with shippers and other specified entities when the 
Commission unanimously determines that congestion of the carriage of 
goods has created an emergency situation of a magnitude such that there 
exists a substantial, adverse effect on the competitiveness and 
reliability of the international transportation supply system.\2\
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    \1\ Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (``OSRA 2022''), Public 
Law 117-146 (June 16, 2022).
    \2\ See generally, OSRA 2022, sec. 18(c)-(d).
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    If the Commission determines that cargo congestion has created an 
emergency situation, it may issue an order requiring any common carrier 
or marine terminal operator to share directly with relevant shippers, 
rail carriers, or motor carriers information relating to cargo 
throughput and availability. Such information sharing among industry 
participants is to improve the efficient transportation, loading, and 
unloading of cargo to or from (1) any inland destination or point of 
origin, (2) any vessel, or (3) any point on a wharf or terminal.\3\
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    \3\ See OSRA 2022, sec. 18(c).
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    Any Commission-issued emergency order must be tailored in terms of 
duration and geographic scope; consider the likely burdens on common 
carriers and marine terminal operators; and consider the likely 
benefits on congestion relating to the purposes of the Shipping Act 
stated in 46 U.S.C. 40101.\4\
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    \4\ See 46 U.S.C. 40101. See also OSRA 2022, sec. 18(d)(2) 
(detailing the criteria for the Commission to consider when issuing 
an emergency order under Section 18).
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    An emergency order issued under OSRA 2022 would remain in effect 
for a period of not longer than 60 days and may be renewed by a 
unanimous vote of the Commission. The authority to issue an emergency 
order under Section 18 of OSRA 2022 terminates 18 months after the date 
of enactment of the Act.\5\
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    \5\ See OSRA 2022, sec. 18(f)(1)-(2).
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    A common carrier or marine terminal operator subject to a 
Commission-issued emergency order may file a petition for exception 
from one or more requirements of the emergency order. Petitions for 
exception must be based on a showing of undue hardship or other 
condition rendering compliance with such a requirement impracticable. 
Not later than 21 days from the petition filing date, the Commission is 
required to determine whether to grant the petition.\6\
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    \6\ See OSRA, sec. 18(e)(1)-(2).
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    Section 18 of OSRA 2022 requires that, not later than 60 days after 
the effective date of the Act, the Commission must issue a request for 
information seeking public comment regarding specific criteria--namely, 
(1) whether congestion of the carriage of goods has created an 
emergency situation of a magnitude such that there exists a 
substantial, adverse effect on the competitiveness and reliability of 
the international ocean transportation supply system, (2) whether an 
emergency order under Section 18 would alleviate such an emergency 
situation, and (3) the appropriate scope of such an emergency order, if 
applicable.\7\ During this process, the Commission may also consult (as 
it deems appropriate) with other Federal departments and agencies and 
persons with expertise relating to maritime and freight operations.\8\ 
This notice fulfills this OSRA 2022 requirement.
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    \7\ See OSRA 2022, sec. 18(b)(1)(A)-(C).
    \8\ See OSRA 2022, se. 18(b)(2).
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II. Request for Information

    At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for worldwide 
ocean transportation services decreased significantly as lockdowns were 
imposed globally and people were hesitant to engage in normal economic 
activities. Accordingly, ocean common carriers cancelled many voyages, 
and the supply of ocean transportation services decreased.
    Within a few months, however, U.S. consumer spending shifted 
markedly. Spending on services decreased significantly, while consumer 
spending on goods increased considerably--leading to a renewed and 
increased demand for ocean transportation services. Carriers responded 
with increases in vessel capacity, however this rapid shift in cargo 
volumes driven by consumer demand led to bottlenecks throughout the 
U.S. supply chain system. In particular, increased container dwell 
times at marine terminals led to inefficiencies, including delays in 
vessel berthing and motor carrier services at U.S. ports.
    Over the last 2 years, there have been a variety of strategies 
employed by industry participants to reduce congestion throughout the 
U.S. ocean transportation system. For example, some carriers have 
diverted vessel services away from the most congested port areas in an 
effort to alleviate severe cargo congestion at major U.S. ports. This 
shift, however, has often resulted in increased congestion at 
previously non- or less-congested U.S. port areas or regions. Total 
U.S. port congestion, measured by the number of containers on ships 
waiting to berth, average ship waiting time at key U.S. ports, and 
container dwell time have all decreased in recent months. Relevant 
metrics, however, remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.
    In view of these factors and consistent with the requirements set 
out in Section 18 of OSRA 2022, the Commission is seeking public 
comments on the following:
    (1) Whether congestion of the carriage of goods has created an 
emergency situation of a magnitude such that there exists a 
substantial, adverse effect on the competitiveness and reliability of 
the international ocean transportation supply system. If so, please 
explain why and provide examples or data to support your view. If not, 
please explain why and provide examples or data to support your view;
    (2) Whether an emergency order pursuant to Section 18 of OSRA 2022 
would alleviate or improve such an emergency situation--and if so, why, 
and if not, why not; and
    (3) The appropriate scope (duration and geographic) of such an 
emergency order, if the Commission were to issue such an order and the 
basis for that scope.

III. Public Participation

How do I prepare and submit comments?

    Your comments must be written and in English. To ensure that your 
comments are correctly filed in the docket, please include the docket 
number of this document in your comments.
    You may submit your comments via email to the email address listed 
above under ADDRESSES. Please include the docket number associated with 
this notice and the subject matter in the subject line of the email. 
Comments should be attached to the email as a Microsoft Word or text-
searchable PDF document.

[[Page 50087]]

How do I submit confidential business information?

    The Commission will provide confidential treatment for identified 
confidential information to the extent allowed by law. If your comments 
contain confidential information, you must submit the following by 
email to the address listed above under ADDRESSES:
     A transmittal letter requesting confidential treatment 
that identifies the specific information in the comments for which 
protection is sought and demonstrates that the information is a trade 
secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial 
information.
     A confidential copy of your comments, consisting of the 
complete filing with a cover page marked ``Confidential-Restricted,'' 
and the confidential material clearly marked on each page.
     A public version of your comments with the confidential 
information excluded. The public version must state ``Public Version--
confidential materials excluded'' on the cover page and on each 
affected page and must clearly indicate any information withheld.

Will the Commission consider late comments?

    The Commission will consider all comments received before the close 
of business on the comment closing date indicated above under DATES. To 
the extent possible, we will also consider comments received after that 
date.

How can I read comments submitted by other people?

    You may read the comments received by the Commission at the 
Commission's Electronic Reading Room at https://www2.fmc.gov/readingroom/.

    By the Commission.
William Cody,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2022-17582 Filed 8-12-22; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6730-02-P