US Congressman Ed Case (D-HI) has called for an early waiver of the Jones Act and military cargo preference requirements to allow the Department of Defense (DoD) defueling of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. to accelerate. Hawaii.
In a letter Speaking to US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Case stressed the need for waivers to ensure “full, reliable and cost-effective availability” of the 10 oceangoing fuel tankers required under the Department of Defense’s proposed defueling plan.
As part of the proposed defuelling process, over 100 million gallons of bulk fuel stored in the Red Hill tanks must be removed and redistributed to other storage facilities under a plan overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Hawaii Department of Health. The current plan calls for ten oil tankers to transport the fuel from a pier at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to various points ranging ten miles away in Kalaeloa to various spare storage sites thousands of miles overseas.
Case emphasized that a series of highly organized and sequenced events is critical to the plan, which must not only achieve safe and efficient fuel removal, but also maintain military deployment pace and operational readiness in Hawaii and beyond. The plan envisages approximately twelve consecutive weeks of full utilization of ten oceangoing oil storage tankers, with each tanker contracted in advance on a time charter basis.
Watch: Hawaii Naval Bunker Tank Closure and the Jones Act Explained
Under current law, these tanker movements are subject to the requirements of the Jones Act, which requires cargo to be transported between US locations on US-built, US-flagged vessels. In addition, these movements are also subject to government mandated overseas movement freight requirements.
Case argued that Jones Act ships were functionally unavailable and prohibitively expensive given the very limited number of fuel tankers in the Jones Act fleet, deployed entirely elsewhere. Additionally, government-powered cargo requirements, if and to the extent that they are available for a specified and predictable period of time, are administratively complicated and prohibitively expensive.
According to Case, assuming each committed charter availability for a total of ten tankers in ninety days, the total cost for all international shipping services would be about $36 million in ninety days, versus about $66 million for cargo preferences plus Jones Act tankers ( assuming only one Jones Act tanker). ). Case argued that it is critical to the Department of Defense and the people of Hawaii that an advance waiver of the Jones Act and government mandated cargo requirements be issued in order to provide the Department of Defense with the widest possible range of options to expand internationally available fuel tanker shipments at predictable rates and predictable way to commission cost-effective basis.
The Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii is a 200 million gallon DoD bulk fuel storage facility located just 100 feet above the main aquifer for the City and County of Honolulu . In November 2021, Red Hill suffered a major leak that polluted the aquifer, sickening residents and driving tens of thousands of people from their homes. As a result, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, at the urgent urging of the congressional delegation and residents of Hawaii, mandated the US Department of Defense to safely and expeditiously defuel, close and decommission Red Hill’s 18 operating underground fuel tanks.
To date, over $2 billion has been directly committed to the mission.
This latest waiver of the Jones Act is not Case’s first. In 2021, he reintroduced a Jones Act reform bill to exempt Hawaii and all non-contiguous US locations from the requirements of the law, accusing the Jones Act of “artificially inflating the cost of shipping goods to Hawaii.” to soar”.
In 2022, he urged President Biden to waive the Jones Act on oil and petroleum products from mainland US ports to Hawaii in order to facilitate the replacement of oil imports from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.