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Archive for the ‘maritime and shipping’ Category

New From the GAO

April 18, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Nuclear Weapons: Technology Development Efforts for the Uranium Processing Facility. GAO-14-295, April 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-295
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662665.pdf

2. Maritime Infrastructure: Key Issues Related to Commercial Activity in the U.S. Arctic over the Next Decade. GAO-14-299, March 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-299
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661762.pdf

3. Medicare Imaging Accreditation: Effect on Access to Advanced Diagnostic Imaging Is Unclear amid Other Policy Changes. GAO-14-378, April 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-378
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662659.pdf

4. Large Partnerships: Characteristics of Population and IRS Audits. GAO-14-379R, March 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-379R

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CRS — Navy Shipboard Lasers for Surface, Air, and Missile Defense: Background and Issues for Congress

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Navy Shipboard Lasers for Surface, Air, and Missile Defense: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Department of Defense (DOD) development work on high-energy military lasers, which has been underway for decades, has reached the point where lasers capable of countering certain surface and air targets at ranges of about a mile could be made ready for installation on Navy surface ships over the next few years. More powerful shipboard lasers, which could become ready for installation in subsequent years, could provide Navy surface ships with an ability to counter a wider range of surface and air targets at ranges of up to about 10 miles.

CRS — Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress

March 26, 2014 Comments off

Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

China’s actions for asserting and defending its maritime territorial and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) claims in the East China (ECS) and South China Sea (SCS), particularly since late 2013, have heightened concerns among observers that ongoing disputes over these waters and some of the islands within them could lead to a crisis or conflict between China and a neighboring country such as Japan, the Philippines, or Vietnam, and that the United States could be drawn into such a crisis or conflict as a result of obligations the United States has under bilateral security treaties with Japan and the Philippines.

More broadly, China’s actions for asserting and defending its maritime territorial and EEZ claims have led to increasing concerns among some observers that China may be seeking to dominate or gain control of its near-seas region, meaning the ECS, the SCS, and the Yellow Sea. Chinese domination over or control of this region, or Chinese actions that are perceived as being aimed at achieving such domination or control, could have major implications for the United States, including implications for U.S.-China relations, for interpreting China’s rise as a major world power, for the security structure of the Asia-Pacific region, for the longstanding U.S. strategic goal of preventing the emergence of a regional hegemon in one part of Eurasia or another, and for two key elements of the U.S.-led international order that has operated since World War II—the non-use of force or coercion as a means of settling disputes between countries, and freedom of the seas.

CRS — EPA’s Vessel General Permit: Background and Issues

March 11, 2014 Comments off

EPA’s Vessel General Permit: Background and Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas)

In November 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed two Clean Water Act (CWA) permits to regulate certain types of vessel discharges into U.S. waters. The proposed permits would replace a single Vessel General Permit (VGP) issued in 2008 that was due to expire in December 2013. As proposed, the permits would apply to approximately 71,000 large domestic and foreign vessels and perhaps as many as 138,000 small vessels. This universe of regulated entities is diverse as well as large, consisting of tankers, freighters, barges, cruise ships and other passenger vessels, and commercial fishing vessels. Their discharges are similarly diverse, including among other pollutants aquatic nuisance species (ANS), nutrients, pathogens, oil and grease, metals, and toxic chemical compounds that can have a broad array of effects on aquatic species and human health, many of which can be harmful.

EPA proposed two permits, one (draft VGP) for large vessels to replace the 2008 VGP, and one for smaller vessels covered by a congressionally enacted temporary moratorium (draft sVGP). Both were proposed well in advance of the VGP’s expiration to provide ample time for the regulated community to prepare for new requirements. On March 28, 2013, EPA issued a final version of the VGP for large vessels. It took effect December 19, 2013. The permit for smaller vessels is still under review.

CRS — China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress

March 10, 2014 Comments off

China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

China is building a modern and regionally powerful Navy with a modest but growing capability for conducting operations beyond China’s near-seas region. The question of how the United States should respond to China’s military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, has emerged as a key issue in U.S. defense planning. The question is of particular importance to the U.S. Navy, because many U.S. military programs for countering improved Chinese military forces would fall within the Navy’s budget.

As a part of the U.S. strategic rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region announced in January 2012, Department of Defense (DOD) planning is placing an increased emphasis on the Asia- Pacific region. Observers expect that, as a result, there will be a stronger emphasis in DOD planning on U.S. naval and air forces. Administration officials have stated that notwithstanding constraints on U.S. defense spending, the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region will be maintained and strengthened.

CRS — Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress (updated)

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On February 24, 2014, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that the Department of Defense (DOD) intends to truncate the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program to 32 ships— a reduction of 20 ships from the previously planned total of 52 LCSs. Through FY2014, a total of 20 LCSs have been funded. Under the Navy’s FY2014 budget submission, LCSs 21 through 24 were scheduled to be requested for procurement in FY2015.

As a successor to the LCS program, Secretary Hagel announced on February 24 that the Navy is to submit “alternative proposals to procure a capable and lethal small surface combatant, generally consistent with the capabilities of a frigate. I’ve directed the Navy to consider a completely new design, existing ship designs, and a modified LCS.”

New From the GAO

February 12, 2014 Comments off

New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Computer Matching Act: OMB and Selected Agencies Need to Ensure Consistent Implementation. GAO-14-44, January 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-44
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660141.pdf

2. Department Of Homeland Security: Ammunition Purchases Have Declined Since 2009. GAO-14-119, January 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-119
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660144.pdf

3. Maritime Administration: Ship Disposal Program Needs Improved Communications and Updated Strategic Plan. GAO-14-223, February 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-223
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660900.pdf

4. Information Technology: HUD’s Expenditure Plan Satisfied Statutory Conditions; Sustained Controls and Modernization Approach Needed. GAO-14-283, February 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-283
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660863.pdf

Testimony

1. Extreme Weather Events: Limiting Federal Fiscal Exposure and Increasing the Nation’s Resilience, by Mark Gaffigan, managing director, natural resources and environment, before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-14-364T, February 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-364T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660861.pdf

Captain’s decision to sail into the path of a hurricane caused the tall ship Bounty to sink off Atlantic coast

February 12, 2014 Comments off

Captain’s decision to sail into the path of a hurricane caused the tall ship Bounty to sink off Atlantic coast
Source: National Transportation Safety Board

A captain’s “reckless decision to sail into the well-forecasted path of Hurricane Sandy” was the probable cause of the sinking of a ship off the North Carolina coast in October 2012, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report released today. The captain and one crewmember died in the accident. Three other crewmembers were seriously injured.

On the evening of October 25, 2012, a day after a closely watched developing storm had reached hurricane strength, the 108-foot-long tall wooden ship, the Bounty, set sail from New London, Conn., for St. Petersburg, Fla., into the forecasted path of Superstorm Sandy. The 52-year-old vessel, a replica of the original 18th Century British Admiralty ship of the same name, was built for MGM Studios for the 1962 movie, “Mutiny on the Bounty.”

Prior to setting off from New London, some of the crewmembers had expressed their concerns to the captain that sailing into a severe storm could put all of them and the ship at risk. The captain assured the crew that the Bounty could handle the rough seas and that the voyage would be a success. Just a month earlier, in an interview with a Maine TV station, the captain said that the Bounty “chased hurricanes,” and by getting close to the eye of the storm, sailors could use hurricane winds to their advantage.

The 16-page report details how a mostly inexperienced crew – some injured from falls, others seasick and fatigued from the constant thrashing of 30-foot seas – struggled for many hours to keep the ships engines running and bilge pumps operating so the seawater filling the vessel would not overtake it.

New From the GAO

January 31, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Federal Student Loans: Borrower Interest Rates Cannot Be Set in Advance to Precisely and Consistently Balance Federal Revenues and Costs. GAO-14-234, January 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-234
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660549.pdf

2. U.S. Merchant Marine: Maritime Administration Should Assess Potential Mariner-Training Needs. GAO-14-212, January 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-212
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660572.pdf

New From the GAO

January 13, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Cruise Vessels: Most Required Security and Safety Measures Have Been Implemented, but Concerns Remain About Crime Reporting. GAO-14-43, December 20.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-43
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659898.pdf
Podcast: http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/660048

2. IT Dashboard: Agencies Are Managing Investment Risk, but Related Ratings Need to Be More Accurate and Available. GAO-14-64, December 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-64
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659667.pdf

3. Clean Water Act: Changes Needed If Key EPA Program Is to Help Fulfill the Nation’s Water Quality Goals. GAO-14-80, December 5.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-80
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659497.pdf

4. VA Surgical Implants: Purchase Requirements Were Not Always Followed at Selected Medical Centers and Oversight Needs Improvement. GAO-14-146, January 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-146
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660106.pdf

Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia: Quarterly Update

January 8, 2014 Comments off

Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia: Quarterly Update
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia was created on January 14, 2009 pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1851. This voluntary ad hoc international forum brings together over 80 countries, organizations, and industry groups with a shared interest in combating piracy. Chaired in 2013 by the United States, the Contact Group coordinates political, military, and non-governmental efforts to tackle piracy off the coast of Somalia, ensure that pirates are brought to justice, and support regional states to develop sustainable maritime security capabilities. The European Union will assume the chairmanship in 2014.

Through its five thematic working groups, the Contact Group draws on a wide range of international expertise and adopts a problem-solving approach to piracy, working closely with Somali officials from the central government and regional administrations and officials in Indian Ocean States. Working Group 1, chaired by the United Kingdom, focuses on operational naval coordination, information sharing, and capacity building; Working Group 2, chaired by Denmark, addresses legal and judicial issues; Working Group 3, chaired by the Republic of Korea, works closely with the shipping industry to enhance awareness and build capabilities among seafarers transiting the region; Working Group 4, chaired by Egypt, aims at raising public awareness of the dangers of piracy; and Working Group 5, chaired by Italy, focuses on disrupting the pirate criminal enterprise ashore, including the illicit financial flows associated with maritime piracy.

This unique international partnership is contributing to a significant decline in piracy off the Horn of Africa. Thanks in part to the Contact Group’s concerted efforts, there has not been a successful pirate attack on a commercial vessel off the Horn of Africa in more than a year and a half, and pirates no longer control a single hijacked vessel.

New From the GAO

November 19, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Maritime Security: DHS Could Benefit from Tracking Progress in Implementing the Small Vessel Security Strategy. GAO-14-32, October 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-32
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/658704.pdf

2. Navy Shipbuilding: Opportunities Exist to Improve Practices Affecting Quality. GAO-14-122, November 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-122
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659110.pdf

Testimony

1. Maritime Security: Progress and Challenges in Key DHS Programs to Secure the Maritime Borders, by Stephen L. Caldwell, director, homeland security and justice issues, before the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, House Committee on Homeland Security. GAO-14-196T, November 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-196T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659088.pdf

U.S. Navy Employment Options for Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs)

November 14, 2013 Comments off

U.S. Navy Employment Options for Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs)
Source: RAND Corporation

This report assesses in what ways and to what degree unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) are suitable for supporting U.S. Navy missions and functions. It briefly characterizes the current and emerging USV marketplaces to provide a baseline for near-term capabilities, describes USV concepts of employment to support diverse U.S. Navy missions and functions, and evaluates these concepts of employment to identify specific missions and functions for which they are highly suitable. USVs offer several particular strengths relative to other platforms, including the ability to interact both above and below the waterline, enabling them to serve as critical nodes for cross-domain networks. They also have potentially longer endurance, larger payloads, and higher power outputs than comparably sized unmanned air or undersea vehicles. Additionally, their greater risk tolerance compared with manned systems makes them desirable platforms for overcoming adversaries’ anti-access and area-denial measures. These strengths make USVs particularly suitable for missions such as characterizing the physical environment, observation and collection regarding adversaries, mine warfare, military deception/information operations/electronic warfare, defense against small boats, testing and training, search and rescue, and the support of other unmanned vehicles. However, USVs need advanced autonomy and assured communications to complete complex missions, as well as any missions in complex environments. Autonomous seakeeping and maritime traffic avoidance are USV-specific capabilities that likely need to be developed with U.S. Navy involvement. Also, optional manning and payload modularity can enhance the desirability of USV programs.

Pirate Trails: Tracking the Illicit Financial Flows from Piracy off the Horn of Africa

November 5, 2013 Comments off

Pirate Trails: Tracking the Illicit Financial Flows from Piracy off the Horn of Africa
Source: World Bank

It is estimated that more than US$400 million was claimed in ransoms for pirate acts between April 2005 and December 2012 and 179 ships were hijacked off the coast of Somalia and the Horn of Africa during that time.

Twenty first century Somali Piracy not only creates problems in the region, but also has a global impact. Unchallenged piracy is not only a menace to political stability and a threat to international security, but it also undermines global growth prospects going forward. Up until now, little attention has been paid to tracking and disrupting the financial flows from piracy.

This study by the International Criminal Police Organization, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and World Bank attempts to understand the illicit financial flows from pirate activities off the Horn of Africa. The study focused on: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Seychelles, and Somalia.

The study (i) analyzes how much money is collected in ransom payments; (ii) how and to whom this money – the proceeds of piracy – are distributed; (iii) how these proceeds may be invested.

Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia: Quarterly Update

October 28, 2013 Comments off

Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia: Quarterly Update
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia was created on January 14, 2009 pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1851. This voluntary ad hoc international forum brings together over 80 countries, organizations, and industry groups with a shared interest in combating piracy. Chaired in 2013 by the United States, the Contact Group coordinates political, military, and non-governmental efforts to tackle piracy off the coast of Somalia, ensure that pirates are brought to justice, and support regional states to develop sustainable maritime security capabilities. The European Union will assume the chairmanship in 2014.

Through its five thematic working groups, the Contact Group draws on a wide range of international expertise and adopts a problem-solving approach to piracy, working closely with Somali officials from the central government and regional administrations and officials in Indian Ocean States. Working Group 1, chaired by the United Kingdom, focuses on operational naval coordination, information sharing, and capacity building; Working Group 2, chaired by Denmark, addresses legal and judicial issues; Working Group 3, chaired by the Republic of Korea, works closely with the shipping industry to enhance awareness and build capabilities among seafarers transiting the region; Working Group 4, chaired by Egypt, aims at raising public awareness of the dangers of piracy; and Working Group 5, chaired by Italy, focuses on disrupting the pirate criminal enterprise ashore, including the illicit financial flows associated with maritime piracy.

This unique international partnership is contributing to a significant decline in piracy off the Horn of Africa. The last successful pirate attack on a major merchant vessel in the region occurred on May 10, 2012.

CBO — An Analysis of the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2014 Shipbuilding Plan

October 26, 2013 Comments off

An Analysis of the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2014 Shipbuilding Plan
Source: Congressional Budget Office

At the direction of the Congress, the Department of Defense (DoD) generally issues annual reports that describe its plan for building new ships over the next 30 years. DoD submitted its 2014 shipbuilding plan to the Congress in May 2013, covering fiscal years 2014 to 2043. The 2014 plan reflects the Navy’s most recent goals for battle force ships—goals that were developed in 2012 and outlined in a report to the Congress in January 2013; that analysis is hereafter referred to as the 2012 force structure assessment. The goals developed in 2012 were slightly different from the ones that were outlined in the 2005 force structure assessment and were reflected in the Navy’s shipbuilding plans up through last year.

The 2013 and 2014 shipbuilding plans are very similar, but not identical, with respect to the Navy’s total inventory goal (in military parlance, its requirement) for battle force ships, the number and types of ships the Navy would purchase over 30 years, and the proposed funding to implement the plans. CBO examined the 2014 plan in detail and estimated the costs of the proposed ship purchases using its own estimating methods and assumptions. CBO also analyzed how those ship purchases would affect the Navy’s inventories of various types of ships over the next three decades.

The total costs of carrying out the 2014 plan—an average of about $21 billion in 2013 dollars per year over the next 30 years—would be one-third higher than the funding amounts that the Navy has received in recent decades but slightly less than the costs of the 2013 plan, CBO estimates.

CRS — Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress

October 24, 2013 Comments off

Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Navy’s proposed FY2014 budget requests funding for the procurement of 8 new battle force ships (i.e., ships that count against the Navy’s goal for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 306 ships). The 8 ships include two Virginia-class attack submarines, one DDG-51 class Aegis destroyer, four Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs), and one Mobile Landing Platform/Afloat Forward Staging Base (MLP/AFSB) ship. The Navy’s proposed FY2014-FY2018 five-year shipbuilding plan includes a total of 41 ships—the same number as in the Navy’s FY213-FY2017 five-year shipbuilding plan, and one less than the 42 ships that the Navy planned for FY2014-FY2018 under the FY2013 budget submission.

The planned size of the Navy, the rate of Navy ship procurement, and the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been matters of concern for the congressional defense committees for the past several years. The Navy’s FY2014 30-year (FY2014-FY2043) shipbuilding plan, like the Navy’s previous 30-year shipbuilding plans in recent years, does not include enough ships to fully support all elements of the Navy’s 306-ship goal over the long run. The Navy projects that the fleet would remain below 306 ships during most of the 30-year period, and experience shortfalls at various points in cruisers-destroyers, attack submarines, and amphibious ships.

In its October 2013 report on the cost of the FY2014 30-year shipbuilding plan, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the plan would cost an average of $19.3 billion per year in constant FY2013 dollars to implement, or about 15% more than the Navy estimates. CBO’s estimate is about 6% higher than the Navy’s estimate for the first 10 years of the plan, about 14% higher than the Navy’s estimate for the second 10 years of the plan, and about 26% higher than the Navy’s estimate for the final 10 years of the plan. Some of the difference between CBO’s estimate and the Navy’s estimate, particularly in the latter years of the plan, is due to a difference between CBO and the Navy in how to treat inflation in Navy shipbuilding.

CRS — Army Corps of Engineers Water Resource Projects: Authorization and Appropriations

October 24, 2013 Comments off

Army Corps of Engineers Water Resource Projects: Authorization and Appropriations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers undertakes activities to maintain navigable channels, reduce flood and storm damage, and restore aquatic ecosystems. Congress directs the Corps through authorizations, appropriations, and oversight of its studies, construction projects, and other activities. This report summarizes congressional authorization and appropriations processes for the Corps. It also discusses agency activities under general authorities.

CBO — An Analysis of the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2014 Shipbuilding Plan

October 22, 2013 Comments off

An Analysis of the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2014 Shipbuilding Plan
Source: Congressional Budget Office

At the direction of the Congress, the Department of Defense (DoD) generally issues annual reports that describe its plan for building new ships over the next 30 years. DoD submitted its 2014 shipbuilding plan to the Congress in May 2013, covering fiscal years 2014 to 2043. The 2014 plan reflects the Navy’s most recent goals for battle force ships—goals that were developed in 2012 and outlined in a report to the Congress in January 2013; that analysis is hereafter referred to as the 2012 force structure assessment. The goals developed in 2012 were slightly different from the ones that were outlined in the 2005 force structure assessment and were reflected in the Navy’s shipbuilding plans up through last year.

The 2013 and 2014 shipbuilding plans are very similar, but not identical, with respect to the Navy’s total inventory goal (in military parlance, its requirement) for battle force ships, the number and types of ships the Navy would purchase over 30 years, and the proposed funding to implement the plans. CBO examined the 2014 plan in detail and estimated the costs of the proposed ship purchases using its own estimating methods and assumptions. CBO also analyzed how those ship purchases would affect the Navy’s inventories of various types of ships over the next three decades.

The total costs of carrying out the 2014 plan—an average of about $21 billion in 2013 dollars per year over the next 30 years—would be one-third higher than the funding amounts that the Navy has received in recent decades but slightly less than the costs of the 2013 plan, CBO estimates.

CRS — Environmental Requirements Addressed During Corps Civil Works Project Planning: Background and Issues for Congress

October 22, 2013 Comments off

Environmental Requirements Addressed During Corps Civil Works Project Planning: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Under its civil works mission, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) undertakes water resource projects. The majority of Corps civil works projects involve commercial navigation, flood risk management, and ecosystem restoration.

Before Congress will authorize the construction of or appropriate funds for most Corps civil works projects, the agency must prepare various studies, reports, and evaluations of project benefits and detriments, including adverse environmental impacts. Those impacts, in turn, may obligate the Corps to demonstrate compliance with certain environmental requirements.

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