Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas released the following statement on the announcement that the Department of Homeland Security will approve a temporary and targeted Jones Act Waiver in order to address Puerto Rico’s immediate needs in the wake of Hurricane Fiona.
“In response to urgent and immediate needs of the Puerto Rican people in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, I have approved a temporary and targeted Jones Act waiver to ensure that the people of Puerto Rico have sufficient diesel to run generators needed for electricity and the functioning of critical facilities as they recover from Hurricane Fiona. The decision to approve the waiver was made in consultation with the Departments of Transportation, Energy, and Defense to assess the justification for the waiver request and based on input from the Governor of Puerto Rico and others on the ground supporting recovery efforts.
The Jones Act is vital to maintaining the strength of the American shipbuilding and maritime industries by requiring all maritime cargo transport between U.S. ports to occur on U.S. flagged vessels. When U.S. flagged vessels are not available to meet national defense requirements, the Department of Homeland Security may grant a waiver to the Jones Act if the proposed shipments are in the interest of national defense and after careful evaluation of the issue. In 2020, Congress eliminated the Federal Government’s authority to issue long-term comprehensive waivers, except in circumstances where a waiver is required to “address an immediate adverse effect on military operations.” Under the law, waivers that do not meet that standard must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.