At the Second Maritime Strategy Symposium on May 6th, Transportation Secretary Anthony R. Foxx expressed to the audience that the Department of Transportation (DOT) resolutely supports the Jones Act.
The Jones Act, which requires passengers and goods traveling via water between United States ports be transported by U.S.-made, crewed, and owned vessels, has come under increased scrutiny and pressure over the last two years. Some lawmakers argue that the statute is raising commerce costs, and assert that lower rates and better vessel availability could lead companies to seek products from overseas rather than from the United States.
Foxx expressed that the waterways and ports are the backbone and structure of our country, and that people inside the industry cannot cast aside their maritime connections.
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn) also spoke during a lunchtime address at the symposium, and he conveyed that stability is necessary within the shipping industry, and that stability includes Navy shipbuilding. Discussion also focused on the need to better educate the public on the importance of the shipping industry, as well as the need to have U.S.-flagged liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels.
Bill Cooper, the President for the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, spoke about LNG’s future, both globally and within the U.S.-flag sector. The United States fleet of 179 vessels does not contain any LNG ships, nor are any in production, Cooper expressed. He did not see an immediate future for those ships in the U.S., primarily due to the fact that they are so expensive to construct (approximately $200 million per vessel). The last U.S.-flagged LNG ship left the fleet nearly 15 years ago, and since then, countries such as Japan and South Korea have dominated the market.
Said Cooper, “The global market will set the future market potential for LNG.”