The Trump Administration has announced decision to waive the Jones Act for Puerto Rico, on the aftermath of the recent devastating hurricane Maria. The waiver goes into effect from 28 September, for a 10-day period.
Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, announced the decision on social media on Thursday, saying that President Trump had authorized it after a request from Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) September 28, 2017
The Jones Act is a law requiring that all goods shipped between US ports be carried by US owned-and-operated vessels.
The decision comes in response to a strong public critic over the last days, that the restrictive shipping regulations have delayed recovery efforts on the island. The administration on Tuesday said there was no need for a waiver, as it would do nothing to address the island’s main impediment to shipping, damaged ports. Reports on Thursday said that the waiver was under consideration.
On 26 September, US Representative Nydia M. Velázquez said:
“…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.”
In the meantime, the US Department of Energy informed that assessments are underway, revealing significant damage to distribution systems. The hurricane season has left the majority of electricity customers in Puerto Rico without power.
The US DHS had also applied a Jones Act waver up to 22 September, on the aftermath of the two major hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, as a precautionary measure to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations.