(Washington, DC) – Members of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation said the Jones Act is critical to the national, economic, and homeland security needs of our country. In addition, the U.S. maritime industry plays an important role in creating jobs and increasing U.S. exports, a respected American maritime executive told Congress, and that is in large part because the Jones Act is the foundation of the nation’s domestic maritime policy.
The Chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), said in a June 14th hearing,“The Jones Act requires merchandise and passengers moving between two points in the United States to be carried only on U.S.-flagged, U.S.-crewed, U.S.-owned and U.S.-built vessels. Something I strongly support … I hear rumors from time to time about ideas or suggestions that can be advanced, either legislatively or otherwise, that would dramatically change or weaken the Jones Act. I can assure you that as chair of this committee, I’ll do everything in my power not to allow that to happen.”
Representative Chip Cravaack (R-MN) highlighted the national security importance of the Jones Act, “Being a retired Navy Captain, I understand the importance of a maritime industry and how important it is to have a U.S.-flag, U.S.-crewed vessel ensuring that when we do have to go over the horizon we have the proper assets to do it; with the proper people that have been trained in a way that we need to make sure they’ll be able to carry the flag when rubber starts hitting the road. So I highly support U.S.-flag vessels and U.S. Jones Act, as well.”
Another key member of the Committee, Representative Mazie Hirono (D-HI), emphasized the economic benefits of the Jones Act for the State of Hawaii, “Mr. Chairman thank you for your strong support of the Jones Act. Like you I am a strong supporter of that act. I just want to note for the record that in Hawaii Jones Act activities provide 23,000 jobs, just in Hawaii, and approximately $1.1 billion in wages and benefits to Hawaii’s economy.”
Speaking before the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Michael G. Roberts, senior vice president and general counsel of Crowley Maritime Corporation in Jacksonville, Fla., and a member of the board of American Maritime Partnership, said the domestic maritime industry sustains the U.S. and international economy. “Taken as a whole, the American maritime industry is a large and vitally important part of our domestic economy,” said Roberts. “We generate about $100 billion per year in economic activity and provide jobs to almost half a million Americans.”
During his testimony, Roberts thanked the subcommittee for their support of the Jones Act. “This fundamental maritime law provides important national security, homeland security and economic security benefits to our nation,” Roberts declared. “This subcommittee’s support for the Jones Act is greatly appreciated.“
Roberts said developing and maintaining a world-class maritime infrastructure, such as harbors that can accommodate the world’s largest ships and modern lock-and-dam systems, can provide economic stimulus during a tough economy. He said expanding and maintaining U.S. maritime infrastructure benefits the U.S. economy by making transportation more efficient and U.S. exports more competitive.
Roberts added that federal drilling permits establishing drilling, wind farms, and other renewable energy installations on the outer continental shelf would help create jobs. “We are confident that thousands of maritime jobs would be created or restored if the government would resume the normal pace of considering and approving energy development permits in offshore locations,” said Roberts.
The maritime industry is a large and critically important component of the transportation circulatory system that sustains the U.S. and international economy. In international trade, 95 percent of the imports to and exports from the United States move on ships. Between 2004 and 2009, U.S. domestic and foreign waterborne trade amounted to an average of more than 2.6 billion metric tons per year. U.S.-flag vessels move about one-quarter of U.S. domestic commerce for about 2 percent of the domestic freight bill. The maritime industry has a low environmental footprint as it emits less than one-half ton of nitrogen oxide per million ton-miles, resulting in less air pollution and reduced climate change effects.