A new bill passed in late September by the U.S. House of Representatives includes a key amendment supporting America’s freight cabotage law.
The amendment supporting the Jones Act was introduced by U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-California) to the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act (H.R. 4447). The House on Sept. 24 passed the bill, 220-185.
According to news reports, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is backing a similar bill in that chamber and hopes to conference it with the House bill after Election Day – though almost any current legislation faces an uncertain future.
There is no doubt Garamendi continues to stand up for the U.S. Merchant Marine, as seen once again in his amendment, which clarifies that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, a 1953 law governing offshore mineral and energy development, applies to lease sales for non-fossil fuel energy sources such as wind power, hydrokinetic, or ocean thermal energy conversion. The amendment will enforce Jones Act requirements for all offshore renewable energy production and strengthen our domestic maritime industry.
“Offshore wind development will play a critical role in our nation’s transition to a clean energy economy,” Garamendi said. “Demand for offshore wind development in federal waters is strong, and Congress must act to ensure this burgeoning industry abides by federal laws and regulations including the Jones Act so we have the strongest possible labor and environmental protections. “My common-sense amendment simply clarifies that all existing requirements that govern offshore oil and natural gas extraction also apply to renewables,” he added. “This will enable our domestic maritime industry to support the renewable energy industry and provide a critical economic stimulus for our nation.”
The congressman further noted that the Jones Act supports approximately 650,000 American jobs while contributing almost $100 billion in yearly economic impact. The 100-year-old law, considered a staple of U.S. national, economic and homeland security, requires that cargo moving between domestic ports be carried on vessels that are built, crewed, flagged and owned American.
Garamendi also stated, “I commend Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-California), chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, for his support as the amendment’s cosponsor and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone’s (D-New Jersey) leadership in crafting the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act.”
Garamendi served as Deputy Secretary of the Interior during the Clinton Administration and was the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation from 2013- 2018.