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Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a ruling on April 13, 2016, clarifying the application of the Jones Act (46 U.S.C. § 55102). This law generally requires that certain vessels engaged in cabotage (coastwise voyages) be U.S.-made, U.S.-owned, and U.S.-crewed. CBP ruled that a floating barge power plant was not a 'vessel' and therefore 'will not be subject to the Jones Act.' The Jones Act states that 'a vessel may not provide any part of the transportation of merchandise by water, or by land and water, between points in the United States to which the coastwise laws apply, either directly or via a foreign port' unless the vessel was built in the United States, documented under the laws of the United States, and owed by United States citizens. The only issue in this case, according to CBP, is whether the proposed power plant is a 'vessel' for purposes of the Jones Act. The agency relied upon previous Supreme Court decisions to find that the power plant is not in fact a vessel.
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