The Jones Act was put into effect in 1920 and governs a variety of aspects when it comes to United States waters. The act, part of which is intended to protect workers, provides certain types of compensation for maritime workers who are injured while servicing a vessel. Along the Gulf Coast, the Jones Act also helps maintain a balance between non-U.S. vessels and U.S. vessels regarding the products and goods that are transported from port to port along the coast.
Roughly 40 years ago, the Jones Act was amended to allow for non-U.S. vessels to transport materials from domestic port to domestic port. This was implemented when there were not enough U.S. vessels in the Gulf to meet the transportation demand of goods for pipelines and the repair materials they needed.
The amendment was meant to be a temporary fix to the problem, but it has continued to stay in practice to this day. In 2017, another amendment was introduced that would have changed the way that things were working in the Gulf Coast. Essentially, it would have banned ships that were non-U.S. from operating in the Gulf, even those that had been operating in that area for years, even decades. If the amendment had succeeded, it would have made massive shortages because U.S. vessels are not able to meet all of the shipping demands. Non-U.S. ships will have to continue to supplement the demands until the U.S. fleets can be increased.
Trump’s Proposal and Jones Act Waiver
The current Trump Administration is considering waiving the Jones Act to allow non-U.S. vessels to transport natural gas that has been liquified from port to port, including Puerto Rican ports. They are claiming that there are no qualified ships that are able to safely carry natural gas. However, this is incorrect. There are a variety of U.S. ships that are qualified and able to transport natural gas.
If this proposal passes and the Jones Act is waived, there will be a direct impact on any new liquified natural gas transport companies. This will cause a ripple effect that would also impact U.S. manufacturing, ship building, and other shipping industries. The end result would be the loss of many American jobs in these industries.
Fortunately, even inside the Trump administration there are several fierce defenders of the 100-year-old law. The law requires vessels moving between two U.S. ports be U.S. owned, built, and crewed and was originally created to protect the country’s maritime strength and domestic shipping industry. Supporters argue that the law is just as essential today as it was years ago. Any amendments or waivers to the requirements would still threaten the industry just like it did decades ago.
Contact an Experienced Maritime Law Attorney
If you work in the service of a United States vessel and have been injured while performing the duties of your job, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Kolodny Law Firm will review your situation and help you understand what your legal options may be. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
(image courtesy of Clyde Thomas)