The American Maritime Partnership today praised the Senate Appropriations Committee for approving legislation directing the federal government to “take adequate measures to ensure the use of United States flag vessels” during any future Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) draw down.
The Committee, which funds all federal departments and agencies, also approved a report describing itself as “very concerned” about the 53 Jones Act waivers during last year’s SPR draw down and “also concerned about the lack of transparency in issuing these waivers” in 2011. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) sponsored the amendment.
In the summer of 2011, the U.S. Departments of Energy, Transportation and Homeland Security faced harsh criticism for using foreign vessels and crews instead of American ships and personnel to transport crude oil from the SPR. An additional draw down has been rumored this year.
The Appropriations Committee’s action comes on the heels of similar legislation approved by the full House of Representatives as part of the Department of Defense budget bill late last week. That bipartisan amendment, sponsored by Representatives Jeff Landry (R-LA) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD), has also been included in the House-passed Coast Guard authorization bill.
Last year, after the 2011 SPR waivers, Congress passed and President Obama signed two additional bills that similarly encouraged the use of American vessels during future draw downs.