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AWO: AWO, AMP Lead on Jones Act Advocacy; Congressional Repeal Efforts Intensify, But Fall Short

Article reposted with permission from American Waterways Operators


Over the last two months, the Jones Act was publicly attacked in the aftermath of the three major storms of the 2017 hurricane season — Harvey, Irma, and Maria — and set a record for media attention that rivals that of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

AWO and the American Maritime Partnership (AMP) met with White House officials and key Members of Congress to provide up-to-date information about the ability of U.S.-flagged vessels to respond to each crisis. As a result, the 10-day Jones Act waiver issued by the White House for the delivery of cargoes to Puerto Rico was not renewed after its October 8 expiration. In addition, the two organizations pursued an aggressive press strategy centering on the American maritime industry’s leadership in the effort to deliver emergency cargoes to storm-ravaged communities on the mainland and in Puerto Rico. In the latter case, AWO and AMP corrected inaccurate media reports by offering on-the-ground evidence of severely damaged infrastructure and a temporary scarcity of truck drivers as the sources of the delay in transporting supplies.

Jones Act opponents in and outside of Congress used the storms as an opportunity to advance their longstanding desire to repeal the 1920 law. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), along with Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), James Lankford (R-OK), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), introduced S.1894 to exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act. Recognizing that his bill would not be taken up by the committee of jurisdiction, Sen. McCain introduced the bill using Rule XIV, a procedural motion that allows a sponsoring lawmaker to bypass committee consideration and call up the measure at any time while the Senate is in session.

In the House, a number of Democrats representing districts with large Puerto Rican populations put forth a proposal to ease the criteria by which the Executive Branch may grant Jones Act waivers. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL), who unsuccessfully attempted to advance anti-Jones Act waivers in the past, introduced a measure to exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act for five years.

In an effort to set the record straight, House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Ranking Member John Garamendi (D-CA) held a roundtable discussion and a subsequent hearing at which maritime industry officials presented the facts about their role in recovery efforts. AWO and AMP members — including Michael Roberts of Crowley Maritime Corp.— provided lawmakers data and updates on U.S.-flag vessel activity around Puerto Rico before, during, and after the storms, as well as a status report on logistics between shoreside terminals and inland communities. Rep. Hunter stated unequivocally that the decision to waive the Jones Act was a mistake if President Trump “stands for the American worker, and… for American jobs and national security.”

Jones Act critics on Capitol Hill continue to look for opportunities to weaken the law, including through the disaster recovery appropriations process.

Congress sent the disaster supplemental appropriations bill to the President on October 24. No Jones Act amendments to that measure were considered in the House, and Sen. McCain was prevented from calling up his bill as an amendment in the Senate due to a parliamentary procedure used by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Sen. Lee, however, criticized the Jones Act during floor debate. It is expected that the Trump Administration will request an additional disaster recovery funding bill in the near future.

AWO and AMP will continue a vigorous program of Administration and Congressional advocacy as well as media outreach to protect the Jones Act.

AWO: Jones Act

Published by AWO on 10/30/2017

“On October 26, the Wall Street Journal editorial board published an anti-Jones Act editorial (accessible by subscription here) that inaccurately portrays the Jones Act as causing delay in the delivery of relief cargo to Puerto Rico and prolonging post-hurricane difficulties there.

In response, AWO is working with its partners at the American Maritime Partnership to distribute a one-page rebuttal of the Wall Street Journal editorial to Members of Congress, Administration officials, the media and other thought leaders influential on this issue. The rebuttal can be viewed here. Our goal is to ensure that as wide an audience as possible understands that the arguments made by the WSJ editorial board were incorrect, and to set the record straight on the true obstacles to Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery and the importance of the Jones Act.”

AWO is encouraging their members to distribute the rebuttal far and wide.

Click here to download AWO’s Rebuttal

SNAME MT – Flexibility and Complexity – Subchapter M Strategy for Compliance

Flexibility and Complexity: Operators Need to Select their Subchapter M Strategy for Compliance
written by Chris Parsonage, published in the July 2017 edition of SNAME MT (The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers – Marine Technology) Magazine


“…path that the USCG has suggested will be best for many operators and the key to successful implementation of Subchapter M—the towing safety management system (TSMS) option. Under the TSMS, operators develop a comprehensive set of policies and procedures that cover all relevant aspects of managing their towing vessels. Instead of working solely with the USCG, operators select a third-party organization (TPO) to conduct periodic audits and surveys to verify the company is in compliance with the policies and procedures outlined in their TSMS and Subchapter M. Instead of annual USCG inspections, operators choosing the TSMS option and successfully operating under their TSMS will potentially have much less USCG involvement in their operations and on their vessels.

Companies that have been operating under a recognized existing TSMS, such as the AWO Responsible Carrier Program or the ISM code, are generally well prepared to comply with Subchapter M, particularly if they choose the TSMS option. They should expect to find their TSMSs might only need a few, if any, additional elements to be implemented before their TPO can verify their systems meet the Subchapter M requirements. Therefore, the gap for these operators will be significantly less than those starting from scratch. Those operators that do not currently have a TSMS in place, or have not begun the process to write a Subchapter M-compliant TSMS, have a steep hill to climb if they want to take advantage of the TSMS option by July 2018.”

“…there is a great deal of f lexibility written into Subchapter M for those who do choose the TSMS route. Generally speaking, operators are able to write their TSMS so that it fits their unique operation. One example of this flexibility is in the survey program option. Subchapter M provides operators selecting the TSMS option flexibility in choosing how to conduct the survey elements of their TSMS. Operators can choose to have their annual surveys and less frequent drydock and internal structural examinations “ISE,” either conducted by an independent third-party surveyor from a TPO, or they can develop their own internal survey program. Operators choosing the internal survey program can use a qualified company employee or hire an outside contractor with proper experience and training to conduct their annual vessel surveys and/or their drydock and ISE. The TPO will work with the operator to supervise the internal survey program.”

Click here to download the full article.