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Bentzel wins Senate confirmation to maritime regulatory post

The U.S. Senate on Nov. 21 confirmed the nomination of Carl Bentzel to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC).

President Trump nominated Bentzel on June 3, 2019, to serve the remainder of a five-year term expiring June 30, 2019, and an additional five-year term expiring June 30, 2024.

The Senate Commerce Committee held a confirmation hearing July 24, which included Bentzel’s nomination to FMC commissioner. The committee approved his nomination for the full Senate’s consideration on Nov. 13.

Bentzel is no stranger to maritime policy and regulation, having worked as Democratic counsel to the former House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee from 1990 to 1994 and as the primary legislative and policy counsel to the Senate Commerce Committee’s Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Subcommittee from 1995 to 2004.

“I have had the opportunity to experience firsthand port and marine terminal operations, visit shipping lines to understand their logistics challenges, and garner a greater understanding of intermodal trucking and rail issues pertaining to services through our ports,” he sold the Senate Commerce Committee during his confirmation hearing.

Since 2004, Bentzel has worked as a lobbyist and public policy consultant in Washington but continued to monitor the nation’s maritime issues.

He noted in his confirmation testimony that the U.S. has an enviable intermodal transportation system and a cost-competitive ocean shipping industry, with freight rates reducing 17% over the past decade.

“However, this advantage is in jeopardy of erosion as we struggle to accommodate the next generation of trade in an acceptable way,” Bentzel said, citing the increased containership sizes and environmental demands on the industry.

“I believe the FMC can and should play a role in facilitating a balance of interests,” he said.

Bentzel’s arrival at the FMC will fill the final chair of the five-person commission. Upon his swearing in, he will join Chairman Michael Khouri and Commissioners Rebecca Dye, Louis Sola and Daniel Maffei.

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