Congressman Cummings said, â€œI am happy with the decision reached by the DOT and DOE and strongly believe that this is the right decision. Cargo preference requirements are absolutely critical to the success of our merchant marine. It is my fervent hope that mariners will get to keep the jobs they love and our nation will ensure that the largest possible volume of American commercial cargoes is carried by U.S.-flagged vessels, particularly those cargoes impelled by the U.S. government or supported by taxpayers.â€
In the 111th Congress, as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Congressman Cummings convened several hearings to examine the status of the U.S.-flagged fleet in the foreign trade. During these hearings, the Subcommittee closely examined whether cargo preference requirements would be applied to the cargoes supported by the Energy Policy Act loan guarantees.
According to MARAD, the U.S.-flagged fleet, which was comprised of 94 vessels as of March of 2010, is currently carrying less than 2 percent of U.S. foreign trade.
As a result of the DOT/DOE decision, U.S.-flagged ships will be used to the extent required by current law to move cargoes funded by the loan guarantees. Under Title 46, the government is required to ensure that at least 50 percent of the gross tonnage of equipment and materials transported on ocean vessels is transported on privately-owned commercial vessels of the United States, to the extent those vessels are available at fair and reasonable rates when the United States Government procures, contracts for, or otherwise obtains these items.