U.S. House committee urges objection of Puerto Rico gov’s request for Jones Act waiver
SAN JUAN – The leadership of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is urging the Department of Homeland Security to reject Puerto Rico’s request for a Jones Act waiver to bring liquified natural gas (LNG) to the island.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló requested a 10-year waiver to the Merchant Marine Act of 1920–known as the Jones Act, which regulates commerce between U.S. ports–to import LNG on foreign vessels, as the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) plans to increase the use of the fuel to reduce its customers’ cost of energy.
However, both Republicans and Democrats in the committee objected to the waiver in a letter dated Feb. 6 saying it was not justified. The lawmakers said such waivers are only granted when it is in the interest of national defense.
“It is our belief that no valid national defense rationale exists to support this waiver request of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico, especially for a ten year period.
“We can do many things to foster and support the recovery of Puerto Rico and its citizens from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, and our Committee has done so. However, we believe there is no justification for waiving the Jones Act in this context and that such a waiver would be contrary to the historic use of section 501(b). Again, we urge you to deny this request. We look forward to your swift decision,” Chairman Peter DeFazio and ranking member Sam Graves wrote to Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
The Jones Act was temporarily lifted following Maria for 10 days