Offshore wind developers outsmart century-old federal law

But that’s the dilemma facing the American offshore wind industry, thanks to a federal law from 1920.

The Jones Act, initially passed to protect maritime merchants, requires vessels transporting cargo or equipment between two U.S. points to be American flagged and manufactured. But because the offshore wind industry has not yet taken off in the states, the only vessels in the world capable of helping it along are manufactured in Europe.

That could leave Massachusetts stuck in a Catch-22, in which manufacturers don’t want to construct vessels for an industry that does not yet exist.

Instead, state officials say they are banking on the unique engineering of South Terminal to circumvent the riddle and spur an industry that will be based in the Commonwealth.

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