US Denies Request for Puerto Rico Jones Act Waiver

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has denied a request for Jones Act waiver to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

The Jones Act prohibits the transportation of cargo between points in the US. In wake of a number of hurricanes which hit the country recently, the DHS waived the act in an effort to help speed up the recovery of the affected areas.

However, although the waiver was introduced after hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the officials informed that waiving the Jones Act would not help address Puerto Rico’s main impediment to shipping, damaged ports, according to Reuters.

On September 25, US Representative Nydia M. Velázquez led Members of Congress in writing the US Department of Homeland Security calling a temporary waiver of the Jones Act in order to expedite supplies being shipped into the island’s ports.

“The President must waive the Jones Act for one year. The aftermath of Hurricane Maria is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis. Puerto Ricans are without food, clean water and electricity. We must use every tool at our disposal to channel assistance to the Island,” Velázquez said.

In a letter to the DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, US Senator John McCain urged the department to waive the Jones Act for Puerto Rico, and asked DHS to assess how a long-term waiver or full repeal of the Jones Act would impact recovery efforts of hurricane-damaged communities, including in Florida and Texas.

“I am very concerned by the Department’s decision not to waive the Jones Act for current relief efforts in Puerto Rico, which is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis following Hurricane Maria.

“It is unacceptable to force the people of Puerto Rico to pay at least twice as much for food, clean drinking water, supplies and infrastructure due to Jones Act requirements as they work to recover from this disaster. Now, more than ever, it is time to realize the devastating effect of this policy and implement a full repeal of this archaic and burdensome Act,” McCain said.

World Maritime News Staff

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