By Mark Edward Nero
On March 3, US Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), the ranking member of the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, introduced legislation that would require up to 30 percent of exports of strategic energy assets to travel on US-flagged vessels.
HR 1240, the “Energizing American Maritime Act,” is a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), the ranking member of the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
“The state of the American maritime industry is in crisis-level decline,” Garamendi said in a statement announcing the bill. “After World War II, our oceangoing fleet of US-flagged ships numbered 1,200. Today, it’s fewer than 80. This isn’t just an economic concern – it’s also a national security risk.”
“We can’t rely on foreign-flagged vessels to provide the necessary movement of strategic materials in a time of war,” Garamendi said.
The bill has already won the support of members of the domestic maritime industry, including the Seafarers International Union, the Navy League and the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, as well as the Transportation Institute, which represents US-flagged ship owners and operators.
Each have released statements endorsing the legislation.
“We’re the most powerful nation in the world, but 99 percent of our trade travels on foreign-flagged ships,” Garamendi said. “To develop the kinds of jobs that will keep the American economic engine moving, we need to right this ship and grow America’s maritime sector.”