40 Days Before BP Gusher—8 Unions and the Metal Trades Urged OMB to Apply Jones Act to Offshore Drilling; Letter Argued That Law Would Provide Better Environmental Protection

A March 9, 2010 letter signed by the Metal Trades and eight other unions—Boilermakers, UA, IAM, Insulators, Steelworkers, UAW Operating Engineers and Iron Workers—urged OMB to apply the Jones Act to the offshore drilling industry. The letter was written in support of a position taken by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) in July 2009.

CPB wanted to reverse policy letters written under the Bush Administration that waived Jones Act rules for the industry, a position that had “the cumulative effect of undermining the Jones Act and congressional intent by creating a regulatory loophole” enabling foreign vessels to transport “a significant amount of cargo” in coastwise trade. The oil industry objected to CPB’s efforts, snarling the rule change. The oil industry raised cost concerns and procedural issues to block the change.

“The very purpose of our coastwise laws is to ensure that such jobs go to Americans instead of to foreigners and that higher safety and environmental standards are set for those who wish to profit from operating commercially in US. Waters. The law aside, domestic preference should certainly resonate in the foreseeable job climate’” the letter asserted.

Jones Labor (pdf)