AWO urges US Congress to support Jones Act

OREANDA-NEWS. April 14, 2016. The CEO of the US trade association for the inland and coastal tugboat, towboat and barge industry American Waterways Operators (AWO) will urge the US House of Representatives subcommittee tomorrow to keep the Jones Act intact and reform vessel discharge law.

The AWO released a statement CEO Tom Allegretti is scheduled to give tomorrow to the subcommittee. In the statement he notes that Jones Act has become a source of controversy. Some companies have suggested that the US-built vessel requirement be eliminated, while maintaining the US vessel ownership and US crewing requirement of Jones Act.

"Not only is the US build requirement essential to our shipbuilding industrial base and, by extension, our national security, but it is also the basis for billions of dollars of investment by American companies", says Allegretti.

"The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Association has decried the supposed influence of the Jones Act on consumer gasoline prices, despite the fact that Jones Act transportation costs contribute less than one-tenth of one cent to the nationwide average cost of a gallon of gasoline...The refiners' complaints that they find a particular domestic trade route expensive compared to the price of foreign-flag transportation is comparing apples to oranges; foreign-flag vessels do not comply with the same US tax, labor, and other regulatory standards as US vessels do – and that they would likely also be required to meet if they were allowed to enter the domestic trades.... Moreover, even if refiners were able to secure lower-cost foreign-flag transportation, it would have no effect on the price of gasoline at the pump, which is principally driven by the price of crude oil", Allegretti adds.

The CEO will also urge the House subcommittee to change vessel discharge laws, which he calls "confusing and costly". The US Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency regulate ballast water and other vessel discharges. But because neither federal agency preempts state action, more than two dozen states have established state-specific requirements for those same discharges.

AWO shipowner members include Vane Brothers, Harley Marine Services, Bouchard Transportation, Kirby and Crowley Maritime.