Cummings: Enforcement of Jones Act is Essential

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, issued the following statement after convening a hearing to consider the U.S. Coast Guard’s regulatory policies regarding the rebuilding of vessels under the Jones Act:

“The issues pertaining to the rebuilding of Jones Act vessels in foreign shipyards are highly complex. However, fair and consistent enforcement of the law is essential to ensure that it is appropriately enforced and that all of the vessels certified for coastwise trade are competing on a level playing field.

“There is currently significant confusion regarding the exact meaning of some of the terminology utilized in existing regulations, as well as how those regulations are to be applied.  Such confusion appears likely to undermine efforts to ensure that the Second Proviso is enforced as intended.  It is my hope that the Coast Guard will take the opportunity to clarify its regulations.

“Further, increased transparency in administration of the processes used to assess the extent of vessel rebuilds would enhance enforcement and enable all parties in the Jones Act trade to understand the specific standards that are being applied by the Coast Guard.

“Additionally, there needs to be enhanced oversight of the processes that the Coast Guard utilizes to implement Jones Act regulations, as well as an effort to verify that the alterations made to vessels at foreign shipyards do not violate the Second Proviso.  It is insufficient to simply trust the claims made by ship owners who could stand to gain significant economic advantage from work on Jones Act vessels in foreign shipyards.”

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