The Department of Energy reversed its position within 24 hours on the use of Jones Act vessels for transportation of crude oil purchased by parties from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
President Obama on Thursday announced the sale of 30 million barrels of oil from the reserve as a way of cutting gas prices. DOE’s formal offer included a blanket waiver of rules that require shippers to use Jones Act vessels to transport SPR crude oil within by water within the U.S. economic zone.
The 1927 Jones Act requires domestic shipping to be done in vessels that are built in the U.S., and owned and operated by U.S. citizens.
However, DOE reversed its position Friday and amended the offer, noting that shippers must get a waiver, Customs and Border Protection, and show why the waiver is necessary.
Jones Act advocates responded sharply to Thursday’s announcement. The American Maritime Partnership, a coalition of Jones Act operators, labor and builders, said it was “dumbfounded” by the president’s disregard of the maritime industry, which has the capacity to complete the work.
“At a time when a record number of Americans are unemployed, it is disappointing that the Administration has chosen to prioritize foreign workers when our nation’s workers are perfectly able and willing to do the job,” the group said.
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