According to a report from The Maritime Executive, the United States Congress recently passed the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2021 fiscal year. Soon after, President Trump vetoed the bill. However, for the first time in his administration, congress overrode the executive veto allowing the legislation to become law.
The NDAA is important for a number of different reasons, not the least of which being its Jones Act reforms. The latest version of the NDAA includes language clarifying that the offshore wind industry is covered by the Jones Act. Here, our Texas Jones Act lawyers highlight the key things to know about the offshore wind industry and the NDAA.
Offshore Wind and the Jones Act: What to Know About the NDAA
Offshore oil and gas production have both long been major industries in the Gulf of Mexico. Among other federal regulations, offshore oil and gas is governed by a 1950s law called the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). With a rapidly growing wind power production, there have been questions regarding what laws and regulations apply to that industry.
The NDAA for FY 2021 includes specific language clarifying that offshore wind farms count as United States points for the purposes of the OCSLA and the Jones Act—much the same as oil and gas production that occurs in the same geographic area. The clarification has a number of important commercial implications. Notably, the law helps to clarify that workers on U.S. vessels in the offshore wind industry will have rights under the Jones Act should an accident happen.
The Offshore Wind Industry Jones Act and OCSLA Reforms are a Long Time Coming
The NDAA is a bipartisan bill. A group of bipartisan legislators have tried to include the offshore wind industry reforms as part of the law for nearly a decade. Each year, they have run into some problems near the finish line. As Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) explained to reporters, “Congress has now ensured this burgeoning industry abides by federal laws and regulations affording critical labor, antitrust, and environmental protections.”
Seaman have dangerous jobs, and offshore wind is no exception. Additional legal protection is critically important for workers in the industry. Jones Act coverage matters. The federal law helps to incentivize large companies and vessel owners, including those in the wind energy industry, to create a workplace environment where conditions are reasonably safe for their crewmembers.
Call Our Texas Jones Act Attorneys Today
At the Kolodny Law Firm, our Texas maritime lawyers are committed to protecting the rights and interests of injured victims and their families. We know how to hold negligent employers accountable for the risk they created. If you have any questions or concerns about the offshore wind industry and the Jones Act, we are more than happy to get you answers. Contact us today for a free, no obligation initial consultation. With a law office in Houston, we represent injured workers throughout Southeast Texas.