Growing American Shipping Act Gaining Support
Legislation promotes revitalization of maritime industry through export of liquefied natural gas on U.S. flagged ships
Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member John Garamendi (D-Calif.) held a hearing Wednesday that brought together the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation to address “The status of the Merchant Marine”. The hearing focused attention on H.R. 5270, the bipartisan Growing American Shipping Act or GAS Act, which would promote the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) on U.S.-flag vessels. Witnesses at the hearing voiced support for the legislation and efforts to increase the use of U.S. flag ships in the foreign trade.
Ranking Member Garamendi said, “The U.S. maritime industry has been knocked down by decades of neglect by policymakers, but it is getting back up and is poised to take off. We’ve beaten back attempts to weaken the Jones Act. For the first time ever, the Maritime Administration and stakeholders are crafting a National Maritime Strategy. Now, looming on the horizon is a terrific opportunity: when and where we export LNG, let’s do so responsibly on American ships. The bipartisan GAS Act makes clear that we want LNG exports to be on U.S.-flagged ships and create American jobs. [Wednesday’s] hearing was a major step forward. I will continue to work with businesses, labor and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring this bill up for a vote.”
During the hearing, the President of the Shipbuilders Council of America voiced support for the GAS Act, saying that the bill would provide a valuable signal to the industry that would encourage the development and construction of advanced LNG ships in the United States. The President of Masters, Mates, and Pilots, a major maritime union, in written testimony expressed strong support for the legislation, saying that “export of LNG offers an opportunity for the United States merchant marine to expand and to create significant new job opportunities for American mariners.” While they are still reviewing the legislation, Mark Tabbutt, of the American Maritime Partnership, and Neils Johnsen, of USA Maritime, both expressed support for efforts to encourage the use of American ships.
Background on H.R. 5270
Existing law, written before the natural gas boom when we thought America would be a liquefied natural gas (LNG) importer, authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to develop and implement a program to promote the transportation of imported LNG on U.S.-flag vessels. Under the Deepwater Ports Act, the Secretary is also required to give top priority to the processing of licenses for offshore LNG import facilities that will utilize U.S.-flag vessels.
The bill would modernize these laws, ensuring that our commitment to U.S. maritime is maintained as we consider export opportunities. It would authorize the Secretary of Transportation to develop and implement a program to promote the export of LNG on U.S.-flag vessels, and require the Secretary to give priority processing of export applications for deepwater port terminals that would utilize U.S.-flag vessels.