Jones Act Waiver Granted for Ship Carrying Diesel Fuel in Puerto Rico

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The Department of Homeland Security has granted a waiver to the Jones Act, allowing a ship that has been trying to deliver diesel fuel to the hurricane-ravaged island of Puerto Rico to land.

“In response to the urgent and immediate needs of the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, I have approved a temporary and targeted waiver of the Jones Act to ensure that the people of Puerto Rico have enough diesel to run the generators needed to power and operate critical facilities as they recover from Hurricane Fiona,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Wednesday.

The ship was scheduled to dock in Puerto Rico on Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard told CBS News.

The Jones Law is a law dating back more than 100 years that requires goods traveling between US ports to be delivered on ships that were primarily built in the United States and are owned and operated by Americans.

A vessel called GH Parks carrying 300,000 barrels of diesel and sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands has been stranded off Puerto Rico, the US Coast Guard said. It departed Texas City on Sunday en route to Guayanilla, according to maritime tracking data, but had been stranded since arriving off Puerto Rico on Monday.

More than a week after Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico and cut power lineshundreds of thousands of people on the island were still experiencing power cuts.

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierlusi had asked the US government directly to grant the ship permission to enter port and unload. Pierlusi said On Monday he called on Mayorkas to step in and expedite the request so the ship “can offload the fuel for the benefit of our people”.

Mayorkas said on Wednesday that the decision to grant the waiver was “taken in consultation with the Ministries of Transport, Energy and Defense to assess the rationale for the waiver request and based on input from the Governor of Puerto Rico and others on the ground supporting recovery.” efforts.”

He also noted in his statement that “in 2020, Congress removed the power of the federal government to issue full, long-term waivers, except in circumstances where a waiver is necessary to ‘address an immediate adverse effect on military operations “. By law, waivers that do not meet this standard must be considered on a case-by-case basis.”

It is not known exactly who owns and operates the GH parks. While the filings list GY Shipco XII LLC and Synergy Maritime Private Limited as the owner and operator, respectively, the Puerto Rican government told CBS News it believes British Petroleum was tied to the diesel shipment. CBS News contacted BP but did not receive a response.

Peerless Oil & Chemicals, the agency that requested the shipment of diesel to GH Parks, supplies diesel and gasoline to thousands of service stations in Puerto Rico as well as hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, to the United States Navy and the Puerto Rican government. The company’s general manager, Luis Vázquez, told El Nuevo Dia that he had requested the GH Parks route to Guayanilla following Fiona, and that the government was aware of his imminent arrival.

Fiona caused catastrophic damage when it made landfall earlier this month in Puerto Rico, which is still dealing with the repercussions of Hurricane Maria five years ago. This storm had a lingering impact on Puerto Rico’s power grid, and residents became accustomed to shockingly high levels. electricity bills and power outages from.

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