U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-California) and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) in July reintroduced the Energizing American Shipbuilding Act in their respective halls of Congress. The legislation, strongly backed by the SIU, would support U.S. shipbuilding by stipulating that a portion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude oil exports be transported on U.S.-built, U.S.-crewed vessels. Specifically, the measure would require that vessels built in the U.S. transport 15 percent of total seaborne LNG exports by 2041 and 10 percent of total seaborne crude oil exports by 2033. If enacted, the bill is expected to induce the construction of dozens of ships, support thousands of jobs in U.S. shipyards, as well as in the domestic vessel component manufacturing and maritime industries. According to an estimate from the Shipbuilders Council of America, the bill would result in the construction of more than 40 ships: approximately 28 LNG carriers by 2041 and 12 oil tankers by 2033.
Wicker and Garamendi on March 26 sent a letter to the Trump Administration encouraging it to secure export opportunities for American mariners and shipyards as part of any trade agreement negotiated between the United States and the Peoples Republic of China.
In that correspondence, Garamendi said: “America is on pace to be the third largest producer of LNG exports by 2020. If we don’t use these trade negotiations to require our LNG exports to ship on U.S. vessels, the United States will continue exporting its LNG on foreign-flagged ships manned by foreign crews.”
He continued, “The U.S.-flag international fleet has declined 60 percent since 1991 to just 80 vessels. These negotiations give us the opportunity to reenergize American shipyards and rebuild our nation’s dwindling merchant fleet, which provides a vital economic stimulus and critical sealift capacity for our military. I look forward to establishing a dialogue with the administration on this matter, and I thank Senator Wicker for leading the effort in the Senate to grow the U.S.- flag fleet.”
“The United States should seize every opportunity to bolster our domestic maritime industry,” Wicker said. “As we pursue stronger trade agreements with China and other nations, I urge the administration to consider supporting the American merchant marine fleet by requiring liquid natural gas and crude oil exports be transported by U.S.-flagged and crewed vessels.” Garamendi and Wicker initially introduced the legislation in December 2018.