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The MTD has thrown its support behind a bipartisan shipbuilding bill offered in the U.S. Congress on July 31.

Representative John Garamendi (D-CA), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, introduced the Growing American Shipping Act (HR 5270) to strengthen the U.S.-flag maritime industry. The subcommittee’s chairman, Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), joined the legislation as an original cosponsor.

In presenting the measure, Garamendi – who along with Hunter addressed the 2013 MTD Convention – stated existing law, written before the natural gas boom when the consensus thinking was America would be a liquefied natural gas (LNG) importer, authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to develop and implement a program to promote the transportation of imported LNG on U.S.-flag vessels. Under the Deepwater Ports Act, the secretary is also required to give top priority to the processing of licenses for LNG import facilities that will utilize U.S.-flag vessels.

HR 5270 would modernize these laws, ensuring that the nation’s commitment to U.S. maritime is maintained as export opportunities are being considered.

Garamendi added, “In order for businesses to grow, they must identify new opportunities and seize them. The export market for LNG, a strategic national asset, is ready to take off. At the same time, our nation’s maritime industry has been declining for years. Our nation must take the bull by the horns. When it is deemed appropriate to export LNG, it should be on American-flagged vessels.”

Hunter said, “A strong U.S. maritime industry is essential to the national economy and global security. This legislation will help strengthen this industry by promoting LNG export opportunities on U.S. flag vessels — which is most certainly in the national interest.”