About the Deepwater Port Act

About the Act

The Deepwater Port Act of 1974 (DWPA), as amended by the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, establishes a licensing system for ownership, construction, operation and decommissioning of deepwater port structures located beyond the U.S. territorial sea. The DWPA sets out conditions that deepwater port license applicants must meet, including minimization of adverse impact on the marine environment and submission of detailed plans for construction, operation and decommissioning of deepwater ports. The DWPA also sets out detailed procedures for the issuance of licenses by the Secretary of Transportation and prohibits the issuance of a license without the approval of the Governors of the adjacent coastal states. The Secretary is required to establish environmental review criteria consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act. On June 18, 2003, the Secretary delegated to the Maritime Administrator, the "authority to issue, transfer, amend, or reinstate a license for the construction and operation of a deepwater port" (68 FR 36496).

As such, the Maritime Administration is responsible for determining the financial capability of potential licenses, citizenship, and is responsible for preparing the project Record of Decision (which includes the decommissioning analysis) and finally, for issuing or denying the deepwater port license. The various other duties under the DWPA, including consultation, are shared with the U.S. Coast Guard. For example, the Maritime Administration and the United States Coast Guard, in cooperation with other Federal agencies, must comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act within the time frame established.

The DWPA establishes a specific time frame of 330 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register (for notice of a complete application) for approval or denial of the deepwater port license. During this time period, the Maritime Administration must receive and assess specific information from participating agencies and efficiently process all required licensing documentation.