The Honorable Sam Graves The Honorable Rick Larsen
Chairman Ranking Member
Transportation and Infrastructure Transportation and Infrastructure
U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Graves and Ranking Member Larsen:
As the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee considers the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2023, we write to express our views on a provision that would require the employment of U.S. workers in the development and operation of the emerging offshore wind industry.
Last Congress, the House of Representatives passed the Don Young Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022, with overwhelming bipartisan support. Specifically, Section 518 of this legislation would require that foreign vessels utilize either U.S. mariners or citizens of the vessel’s flag state while operating in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Similar to the current provision, this language represents an important policy discussion about the need for offshore wind developers to make long-term investments in hiring U.S. workers, particularly in the installation, operation, and maintenance of offshore wind turbines.
Our unions strongly support the Administration’s national goal to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. While we recognize the capacity of U.S. mariners and vessels does not currently exist to meet the long-term demands of the offshore wind industry, we remain concerned these gaps are currently being exploited to hire foreign labor under existing “flags of convenience” vessel operators for extremely low wages and poor working conditions. That is why Congress must take immediate action to reverse this industry trend so that we can build out highly skilled, qualified mariners necessary to crew and operate these specialized offshore wind vessels here in the United States.
An unwillingness by Congress to act on this critical issue is not a viable solution as we run the risk of leaving our nation’s renewable energy infrastructure vulnerable to foreign adversaries operating in U.S. waters. We firmly believe any path forward requires direct engagement and dialogue between offshore wind representatives and maritime labor unions to ensure both industries can find adequate flexibility so that every effort possible is made to hire U.S. mariners without impeding the development of existing wind energy projects. We stand ready to work with your Committee and all affected stakeholders to ensure that the jobs created aboard vessels serving this industry are filled by U.S. workers. To that end, we strongly support the intent and purpose of the offshore wind manning provision in the Coast Guard reauthorization bill.
Greg Regan, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
Donald J. Marcus, President, International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots
Adam Vokac, President, Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association