Unions Hail New U.S.-Flag Energy Exports Proposal

The U.S.-flag crude oil tanker Polar Endeavor (file image courtesy Walter Siegmund)

By MarEx 2016-12-09 21:28:12

On Friday, Congressman John Garamendi of California, ranking member of the House Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, introduced a bill to require up to 30 percent of crude oil and LNG exports to travel on U.S.-flagged vessels.

“The state of the American maritime industry is in crisis-level decline,” said Garamendi. “This isn’t just an economic concern — it’s also a national security risk. Requiring even a minority of strategic energy asset exports to be carried on U.S.-flagged ships will compel us to rebuild the technical skill to man these vessels."

Leading American maritime unions and industry organizations immediately expressed support for Garamendi's proposal, which is entitled the “Energizing American Maritime Act.”

Captain Don Marcus, president of the Masters, Mates and Pilots (MM&P), said in a statement that "the enactment of this legislation will both ensure that at least some of the jobs associated with the export of LNG will go to American maritime workers and help guarantee that we will have the civilian maritime manpower needed to support America's national security requirements."

Marshall Ainley, president of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA), said that "a strong commercial fleet is crucial to our national security as it maintains a base of trained mariners who are prepared to serve the U.S. military. The MEBA appreciates Rep. Garamendi’s effort to apply 'make it in America' standards to the maritime industry.”

Brian Schoenman, political and legislative director of the Seafarers International Union (SIU), broadly agreed. "This bill offers an excellent opportunity to create American jobs while strengthening U.S. national, economic and homeland security,” he said.

The Transportation Institute, which represents U.S. flag ship owners and operators, and the Navy League, an advocacy organization for America’s sea services, also expressed strong support.

Garamendi has also introduced separate legislation, H.R. 6454, requiring that the same percentage of strategic energy exports be carried on ships that are not only U.S.-flagged, but also built in American shipyards.

Both bills have both been referred to the House Energy and Commerce and the House Foreign Affairs committees.