Congressmen Voice Support for Jones Act

 

August 2012

 

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On June 27, the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation conducted a hearing, chaired by Representative Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), to review the process used to determine the availability of American flag vessels during the summer 2011 drawdown of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and what steps are being taken to improve that process.

 

During the hearing, Chairman LoBiondo and Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), both great friends of the U.S. Merchant Marine, made strong statements in support of the Jones Act, which is one of the foundations of the American maritime industry.

 

LoBiondo said, “The Jones Act protects our national security and promotes job growth in the U.S. maritime sector.” Speaking about waivers that were issued last year for the SPR draw-down, he continued, “I find these actions extremely disturbing, particularly because it came at a time when so many Americans were out of work.”

 

Congressman Larsen stated, “The Jones Act exists for good reason. It sustains a vibrant and strong domestic maritime industry. It creates job opportunities for U.S. mariners. It underpins U.S. maritime defense policy.”

 

He added, “U.S. industry has available capacity to move U.S. strategic oil reserves on U.S. flagged ships, putting U.S. mariners to work. I don’t know of anyone on this committee who agreed with these controversial waivers, and Congress has responded accordingly to uphold the integrity of the Jones Act.”

 

Larsen was referring to language passed by Congress to prohibit the use of funds to issue future Jones Act waivers for SPR draw-downs for the balance of this fiscal year until the administration has taken adequate steps to ensure the use of U.S.-flag vessels. Also, as previously reported, the House adopted an amendment offered by Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Congressman Jeff Landry (R-La.) that strengthens information and notice requirements for any future Jones Act waivers.

 

Part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act mandates that cargo moving between domestic ports must be carried aboard vessels that are built, crewed, owned and flagged American. The law is a major contributor to national and economic security.

 

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