US shipbuilders, vessel owners and operators on Thursday voiced strong criticism of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency’s withdrawal of proposed changes to how the Jones Act should be interpreted.
If the changes had gone through it would have ended or greatly reduced the use of waivers that allow foreign vessels to supply equipment to offshore drilling sites, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico.
But with the plan withdrawn, the continued use of waivers will allow this exception to persist.
The Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA) portrayed the CBP decision as kicking the can down the road, a deferral that “only hurts the more than 400,000 men and women of the US shipyard industry”.
The president of the Offshore Marine Services Association (OMSA), Aaron Smith, said the decision was “…deeply damaging to the American crews, shipyards, and companies who have waited more than eight years while the Administration studied taking corrective action.”
OMSA is a trade group for US vessel owners and operators.
An OMSA statement said foreign interests influenced the decision with lobbying and dissemination of false information.
Tom Allegretti, Chairman of American Maritime Partnership, a broad coalition of stakeholders in the domestic maritime industry, slammed the decision saying it “…will damage our American mariners and domestic maritime industry, which is essential for US economic security and job creation.”
And, referencing US President Donald Trump’s economic-policy slogan “America first”, Allegretti added: “The domestic maritime industry calls on President Trump and his Administration to take immediate action to return these jobs to our American mariners.”
But the American Petroleum Institute (API) – a national trade association for the oil and natural gas industry, including large integrated companies – was very pleased with the CBP’s withdrawal.
API’s Upstream Director Erik Milito said: “Withdrawing the proposed changes protects US energy security and allows for consumers and businesses to continue benefitting from America’s energy renaissance.”
He added that implementation of the changes could have cost thousands of jobs and reduced oil and gas output.