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Alaska Representative Don Young Seeks to Tweak Jones Act

U.S. Rep. Don Young will pursue a change in federal law to allow a Kenai Peninsula fertilizer plant to make marine cargo deliveries to the West Coast.

Young told the Kenai Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that he will try to "tweak" the Jones Act to allow the fertilizer plant to make cargo deliveries within the United States. The ships would still be manned by American crews, he said.

The Jones Act is a federal statute requiring vessels that transport cargo between U.S. ports be owned by U.S. citizens, built in U.S. shipyards, and manned by U.S. citizen crews.

Agrium delivers its products in vessels that are not U.S. flagged. preventing it from delivering its product to U.S. markets, said Agrium spokeswoman Lisa Parker. The plant sells its products to Mexico and South Korea, she said.

The public policy reason for the Jones Act was to protect American shipbuilding capacity and the ability to construct war ships, said Mark Manning, an Anchorage lawyer with experience in marine law. The law also protects American jobs, he said.

Parker said Agrium had no comment on proposed Jones Act changes. The company will discuss the matter with Young and his staff, she said.
However, prices for fertilizer currently are higher in the Pacific Northwest than they are in Mexico and South Korea, Parker said.