American Clean Power CEO Heather Zichal issued the following statement after the House attached a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would alter manning rules in U.S. waters. (It would require that vessel crews that work on offshore wind and oil projects be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or be from the same country as the vessel’s flag.)
This provision is a gut punch to offshore wind projects, and it has nothing to do with making the Coast Guard any stronger. It doesn’t belong in the law. It certainly doesn’t belong in the NDAA. We knew that if this largely unvetted crewing provision becomes law, it will delay offshore wind development and stymie the nation’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of U.S. offshore wind by 2030. We can’t keep saying we support clean energy and clean energy jobs but then pass laws that undermine them.
Offshore wind can create up to 83,000 new American jobs, but today’s vote undermines that possibility by imposing vessel crewing requirements before there are enough domestic vessels available to do the work. It’s a matter of math, not ideology. Today, the U.S.-flagged specialized construction vessels simply do not exist. Today, there aren’t nearly enough U.S. mariners trained to operate them. Congress is imposing a provision that will only hurt American workers who won’t be able to build the offshore installations today and tomorrow – without any benefit.
Let’s be clear. If we stay on track, coastal communities will benefit from clean and reliable energy, more local jobs, and growing supply chains. As these projects are built, all of the vessels going from U.S. ports to offshore turbines will be made in America and more than 80 percent of the crews on board will be American mariners. But if we allow this provision to veer us off track, long-term power offtake contracts and awards will all be put at risk – for nothing.
We need Congress to replace this ill-conceived crewing mandate with policy incentives that actually build more U.S.-flagged vessels and train more American mariners. That’s how America wins.