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Shipping Trade Group Aiding NJ on Road Salt

The head of the American Maritime Partnership says the U.S. shipping industry is taking steps to help speed the transport of additional road salt to New Jersey. The state’s supply is critically low and a federal maritime law has left a shipment of salt stranded at a Maine seaport.

truck gathering salt
Julie Denesha, Getty Images

“The maritime industry is working to ensure that the state has the resources it needs to meet its seasonal demand,” Thomas A. Allegretti, Chairman of the AMP said Monday. “Despite short notice by transportation officials, maritime operators are moving to accelerate a request for additional salt and will deliver a new shipment to New Jersey before it is needed again.”

On Feb. 14, Townsquare Media broke the story involving the stalled shipment of salt after learning that a 94-year-old federal maritime was preventing the cargo from being transported to New Jersey. Urgent requests for a waiver were denied by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and state officials have spent more than a week trying to get it reconsidered.

After reading Townsquare’s initial report on Friday, The American Maritime Partnership, which serves as the voice of the nation’s domestic maritime industry, said, “New Jersey has filed a request for a Jones Act waiver for a foreign-flagged vessel and we are confident it will be considered fairly and appropriately in accordance with federal law.”

Although the AMP is on record as supporting the Jones Act, a spokesperson said Monday that the organization does not oppose the waiver request, adding further: “We have not taken a position on it one way or the other.” He said the organization was instead focused on helping to facilitate transport for the salt from Maine to New Jersey.

According to its website, the AMP is a ” is a broad-based coalition” representing American marine industry with a membership including “vessel owners and operators, shipboard and shoreside unions, shipbuilders and repair yards, equipment manufacturers and vendors, dredging and marine construction contractors, trade associations, other coalitions, pro-defense groups, and companies and organizations in other modes of domestic transportation.”

The law in question is the 1920 Maritime Act, also known as the Jones Act. The law prevents foreign vessels from moving cargo from one U.S. port to another. As a result, New Jersey has been unable to transport 40,000 tons of available road salt in Searsport, Maine in time to meet the urgent need here.

The measure was originally enacted to protect the American shipping industry from foreign competition. In 2012, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York was able to get Homeland Security to waive the requirement in order to facilitate petroleum shipments to the Northeast during the gasoline shortage.
On Friday, Jim Simpson, head of New Jersey’s Department of Transportation, said the state’s salt supply is dangerously low and may only last through two more snowfalls. The state experienced snowfall on Saturday and another round of snow is expected for late Monday night into Tuesday morning.
Later that morning, the AMP, citing the report on New Jersey 101.5, issued the first statement from Allegretti, which said, “America’s domestic maritime industry is responding to a last minute request for road salt to help the people of New Jersey. The industry is joining with other modes of transportation and road salt providers to ensure the state has the resources it needs amid widespread demand.”

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