FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 2, 2011
Contact: Nachama Soloveichik (202) 224-0437
or Rebecca Neal (202) 224-8609
SEN. TOOMEY SECURES COMMERCE DEAL
TO CREATE HUNDREDS OF PENNSYLVANIA JOBS
Threatens to Stop America’s Cup Race in Fight for PA Jobs
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) reached an agreement with Chairman of the Commerce Committee, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), which will create hundreds of jobs in Pennsylvania’s Delaware County.
At issue is the Jones Act, which prohibits foreign flag ships from traveling from one U.S. port to another without a waiver. A new project at the Marcus Hook refinery in Delaware County has been held up because there are no qualified U.S. flag liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers available to transport natural gas from Delaware County in Pennsylvania to the Gulf region.
With the support of the maritime unions, Sen. Toomey attempted to introduce legislation to grant three waivers to three American-made tankers to once again engage in domestic commerce in line with existing maritime laws, but was told that the waivers would have to wait until the Coast Guard Authorization Act was considered in a few months.
Granting these waivers will create significant new jobs in the Pennsylvania region. It will result in 300-400 new construction jobs to build the necessary facilities in Marcus Hook and 25 long-term, full-time jobs to maintain the facilities. New construction jobs will also be needed in Washington and Westmoreland counties where a new pipeline will be built to connect to existing infrastructure. In addition, these ships have the potential to be serviced and maintained at the shipyard in Philadelphia, further bolstering Pennsylvania’s economy.
When Sen. Toomey discovered that similar waivers were being issued today to 60 foreign ships to participate in the America’s Cup race in San Diego next weekend and would be passed immediately in the Senate, he threatened to put a hold on the America’s Cup Act of 2011, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), if similar waivers are not granted to the Marcus Hook tankers this week as well.
Today, during a hearing of the Commerce Committee, Senator Toomey raised his concerns with Chairman Rockefeller. A deal was reached to grant the three waivers necessary to get the Marcus Hook project off the ground along with the America’s Cup Act.
"If Congress can grant Jones Act waivers to help out a sailboat race, it can also take similar action to help create hundreds of jobs in Pennsylvania," Sen. Toomey said. "Especially during these challenging economic times, I am pleased that my colleagues on the Senate Commerce Committee agreed to provide timely legislative relief so that this new project in Marcus Hook can get off the ground and get people back to work. I also appreciate Congressman Meehan’s leadership on this issue in the House of Representatives and hope we can get this bill signed into law very soon."
A video and a transcript of Sen. Toomey’s remarks are below.
Click on the photo to view Sen. Toomey’s remarks.
SEN. TOOMEY: Well, I will consider that recognition. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I want to thank you and Ranking Member Hutchison for working with us on this. Let me just very briefly make sure that we have an understanding of what’s happening here.
S. 1759, the America’s Cup Act of 2011, is a bill, it is my understanding that this will have the effect of creating maritime waivers that will permit the America’s Cup race to go ahead, and I fully support the substance of that bill.
However, it is vitally important to me that we include in this bill waivers for three LNG tankers. And let me just explain very briefly why. We have a $3 to $4 hundred million liquid natural gas facility that is awaiting one activity, one action to begin construction to create hundreds of jobs in southeastern Pennsylvania. It will also result in extension of a pipeline in western Pennsylvania.
The net effect is hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, significant economic growth and hundreds of jobs that begin virtually immediately when Congress acts to grant the waiver for which there is no controversy, nobody disputes. And the reason there’s this holdup and it’s awaiting our action is because, until we act, there is no way to ship the liquid natural gas. But when we act, the three ships that were made in America, have American crews, will then be permitted to transport the natural gas from the Philadelphia area to the Gulf Coast. And because that is between two American ports, we need these waivers to be enacted.
So I appreciate your support. There’s a few ways we could do this, Mr. Chairman. I’m not sure that we have worked out exactly what mechanism –
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I think they are.
SEN. TOOMEY: OK, I’d love to hear
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: It’s worked out –
SEN. TOOMEY: I’d be delighted to hear what that is if you care to share that –
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Well, I understand your concerns. I support the America’s Cup language. The LNG language mentioned by you, senator, and contained in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2011. And my understanding is that the House of Representatives is going to pass a bill that combines the America’s Cup Act of 2011 and the LNG language mentioned by yourself, sir.
When the bill comes to the Senate, I will support it, I’m sure the Ranking Member will support it. And push for its immediate consideration giving that the Commerce Committee has had the opportunity to consider all of the components parts at today’s markup.
SEN. TOOMEY: Terrific. Well, I –
SEN. HUTCHISON: It will be held at the desk, that bill, when it comes over from the House, and we’ll support the unanimous consent that it be passed.
SEN. TOOMEY: That is terrific. I thank you very much. And on behalf of the hundreds of Pennsylvania’s who will be going to work sooner as a result, I want to thank you on their behalf as well.
U.S Senator Pat Toomey
502 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510