Puerto Rico Overseer Backs Jones Act Exemptions to Boost Economy

cargo ship puerto rico
A cargo ship arrives in San Juan Harbor, Puerto Rico. File Photo: ClS / Shutterstock.com

By Daniel Flatley (Bloomberg) — Congress should take steps to reduce the cost of shipping fuel to Puerto Rico, including possibly suspending or exempting them from the requirement that they travel on U.S.-flagged vessels, a congressionally appointed overseer said.

“We believe that any measures that the Congress takes to ensure that the cost of shipping fuels to Puerto Rico is reduced is a positive step towards rebuilding the economy,” Noel Zamot, the revitalization coordinator for Puerto Rico’s oversight board, told a congressional panel Tuesday.

Zamot was asked by Representative Doug Lamborn, a Republican of Colorado, if the Jones Act restricts liquefied natural gas shipments to the island.

“I for one would be willing to look at that,” Lamborn said of an exemption. A “very narrow exception” to the Jones Act may be needed, he said after questioning Zamot at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing.

The Jones Act requires goods being shipped between U.S. ports and territories to be carried on American-built vessels crewed by American officers and deckhands. Because much of the goods it uses are shipped in, Puerto Rico is disproportionately affected by the requirement.

A waiver granted by President Donald Trump expired earlier this year.

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