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Posted: May 19, 2014

Congressman Garamendi connects LNG exports with American shipbuilding, U.S. merchant marine

Looking to the near horizon, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) sees key American strategic assets moving hand-in-hand on the open ocean and leading our nation to revitalization of the maritime sector.

Speaking at the Washington, D.C. Propeller Club luncheon May 8, Rep. Garamendi, ranking member on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, connected the domestic production of natural gas and the U.S. maritime industry, describing in detail the potential for large-scale transportation of liquefied natural gas aboard a fleet of U.S.-flagged LNG carriers built in American shipyards and crewed by U.S. merchant mariners.

"It is in the strategic national security interest of this nation to have a shipbuilding industry - for the U.S. Navy, the Coast Guard and for jobs in America," Rep. Garamendi said. "It is a national security issue."

Leveraging the availability of domestically produced natural gas for export to greatly expand the fleet of three U.S.-built LNG carriers would serve this national security interest, he said.

"By combining two of the strategic resources this nation still has - natural gas and shipbuilders - we can rebuild and strengthen and keep the American maritime industry in relatively better shape," he said.

Along the way, other aspects of federal policy also require attention, specifically the PL-480 Food for Peace program, he said.

"It remains at risk," and attempts to undermine the Food for Peace program and convert U.S. food-aid shipments into cash transfers would have a disastrous outcome, he said, adding that a strong and unified effort to keep the program intact must be sustained.

Rep. Garamendi and his wife have spent many years working in famine-stricken areas and have first-hand experience with the value of American food aid to nations in need around the world. "We know what it means when a sack of grain arrives and it has the U.S. flag on it," he said.

"I think public policy issues have largely allowed the decline of the American maritime industry," he said. "It's a neglect of policy ... but that can turn. Public policy can drive a resurgence of the American maritime industry."