Legislators criticize Jones Act waivers
A bipartisan group of legislators have sent a letter to President Obama criticizing the repeated use of waivers to allow oil companies to use foreign-flag ships to transport oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).
'We strongly urge the Administration to end the practice of waiving the Jones Act for SPR oil distribution and handing American jobs to foreign shipping companies,' the letter said. 'The rash of recent waivers, exacerbated by a lack of transparency in the decision-making process, represents a stain on the administration's determined effort to create jobs and improve the economy here at home, and it should therefore be rectified immediately.'
The Jones Act requires the use of U.S.-built ships employing American seafarers when moving cargo between two U.S. points.
The letter was signed by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and David Vitter, R-La., and Reps. Charles Boustany, R-La., Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Peter King, R-N.Y., Candice Miller, R-Mich., Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Pete Visclosky, D-Ind.
The legislators say that since President Obama's decision in June to release oil from the SPR, the administration has waived the Jones Act 46 times despite the availability of U.S. vessels to transport the oil.
'The administration's current policy provides jobs to foreign seafarers while American seafarers stand by ready to help. In waiving the Jones Act, the Maritime Administration apparently has determined that no American ships are 'available.' We would appreciate your assistance in understanding why U.S. vessels that are in the full-time commercial business of transporting oil, are far more experienced in coastline movements of oil than any foreign-flag operators, exceed the barrel capacity as defined by the DOE, are owned, controlled and operated by Americans, are not considered 'available,' ' the letter said.