US industry group fights to keep Jones Act

America’s maritime industry is fighting to keep the privileges bestowed on it by the Jones Act of the last century. US shale drillers had asked that the Act be waived. The Jones Act requires goods transported between US ports to be carried on ships that are built, owned and operated by Americans.

The American Exploration and Production Council (AXPC) sent a letter to congressional leaders  asking for “market-based solutions” to help alleviate what it described as a severe supply/demand imbalance.

AXPC said that a temporary Jones Act waiver would “allow American producers to move domestic products with greater ease within the US”.

The letter was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others.

The American Maritime Partnership (AMP) snapped back with a letter to the same government officials. AMP pointed out that the circumstances legally necessary for a Jones Act waiver did not exist, stating that “administrative Jones Act waivers are limited by law to cases where it is ‘necessary in the interest of national defence’ and when US vessels are not available”.

It said that “a waiver to allow domestic oil and gas to move ‘with greater ease’ is not necessary in the interest of national defence.”

AMP said that there was “a more-than-ample supply of domestic tankers and tank vessels available to transport domestic oil and gas now and in the foreseeable future”.

It claimed that the American tanker and tank vessel industry was already experiencing the consequences of the challenges in the domestic gas industry, and said that “a waiver would only exacerbate that, without benefit to the US economy”.

AMP concluded that “a waiver would allow foreign vessels and foreign crews to enter purely domestic commerce, a bad idea in any circumstance but certainly more so during the current coronavirus crisis.”