U.S. Congressman John Garamendi has spoken out on the need for the United States shipbuilding industry to focus on the construction of LNG carriers.
Garamendi, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, was speaking at the Bay Planning Coalition’s 2015 Decision Makers Conference on Thursday.
Garamendi's speech focused on the U.S.’ pivotal opportunity to create thousands of American jobs by revitalizing the U.S. shipbuilding industry.
"We're not building big ships in the United States except for the U.S. Navy. These are strategic national assets," Garamendi said.
"What if we recognized that the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG), when and where deemed appropriate, provides us with a unique opportunity to rebuild the American shipbuilding industry and strengthen our merchant marine," Garamendi said.
"When we export LNG, we need to make sure that the export of this natural asset is being conducted by American sailors on American ships. In doing so, we will revitalize America's shipbuilding industry in a big way."
"We have an opportunity to make sure that a very significant part of the American economy has an opportunity to blossom and grow - not just the shipyards - but the entire supply chain: electronics, engines, and more," he added.
In his remarks, Garamendi also argued that the government needs to ensure that harbor maintenance funds are not siphoned off to projects unrelated to improving America's harbors. California is disproportionately harmed by this practice.
"Harbor maintenance fund money should be used for what is one of the principal economic opportunities this nation possesses: our ports," he said.
Garamendi also argued that America needs to preserve the Jones Act and do more to preserve the merchant marine. He said that the nation should renew the Surface Transportation Act and ideally model it out of ideas of the President's GROW America Act, including its call for a robust and comprehensive freight management plan.
"We're going to build in America and Make It In America one ship, two ships, one hundred ships at a time," Garamendi concluded. "What I need from all of you is your interest and support in building the American shipbuilding industry. If any of you would like to join me in this effort, let me know."