Congress Passes Jones Act Enforcement in Offshore Wind

On December 11, the U.S. Senate passed Congressman John Garamendi’s (D-CA) amendment ensuring full enforcement of the Jones Act and other federal laws in offshore wind development in the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2021.

The legislation passed by a vote of 84-13 and now heads to the President’s desk for his signature following Senate passage on December 11, and House passage on December 8. 

As Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, and as an NDAA conferee, Congressman Garamendi was among the select Members of Congress appointed to negotiate the final bill. Garamendi, a former Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, added this critical amendment to the NDAA during conference with support from Reps. Alan S. Lowenthal (D-CA) and Elaine G. Luria (D-VA) to support American workers and domestic shipbuilding. 

Background: Congressman Garamendi’s amendment clarifies that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the 1953 law governing all offshore mineral and energy development, also applies federal labor, environmental, and antitrust regulations to non-fossil fuel energy sources such as wind power. The Garamendi amendment will fully enforce the Jones Act and other federal laws for all offshore renewable energy production in the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). 

“Offshore wind development will play a critical role in our nation’s transition to a clean energy economy,” Garamendi said. “Demand for offshore wind development in U.S. waters remains strong, and Congress has now ensured this burgeoning industry abides by federal laws and regulations affording critical labor, antitrust, and environmental protections, including the Jones Act. 

“My commonsense amendment simply clarifies that all existing safeguards governing offshore oil and natural gas extraction also apply to the offshore wind industry. This will enable American workers to support offshore wind development and provide a critical economic stimulus for our nation, with construction on the first major offshore wind project in federal waters set to begin as soon as next year,” Garamendi continued. 

“As the former Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, I know how essential American mariners are to our economy and national security. When enacted, my amendment will allow American workers and US-flagged vessels to help build the offshore wind projects needed to transition our nation to a clean energy economy. I expected this policy to become law this year,” Garamendi concluded. 

The “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021” (H.R.6395), which includes Congressman Garamendi’s amendment, is expected to be enacted into law this month. 

The text of Congressman Garamendi’s amendment can be viewed here.

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