Puerto Rico chief says there could be a case for limited Jones Act exemptions

The man in charge of the US federal body overseeing Puerto Rico’s economy on Tuesday told a Congressional panel that exempting the island in a limited way from Jones Act regulations might be justified, according to Bloomberg.

Noel Zamot, Revitalization Coordinator for the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, told the House Natural Resources Committee that a “very narrow exception” to the Act may be needed in the case of liquefied natural gas (LNG) deliveries to the island.

He also said any measure Congress took to reduce the costs of shipping fuel to the island would be welcomed.

Zamot was responding to a question on the LNG issue from a Congressman.

The Jones Act is a 1920 piece of legislation requiring items shipped between US ports to be carried by US-made and US-owned vessels under the US flag and crewed by US personnel.

Since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September there has been much debate as to whether the relief efforts have been hampered by the Act’s restrictions.

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the US, located about 980 miles off of Florida.

The Oversight and Management Board was created in 2016 and tasked with helping Puerto Ricans to create the foundation for economic growth there. It comprises seven members appointed by the US president and one ex officio member designated by the Governor of Puerto Rico.

Last week the House Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, considering the responses to a series of big hurricanes this year, heard some vigorous defences of the Jones Act.

Defenders said that Act-compliant ships had been more than adequate for delivering supplies and aid but the island’s wrecked infrastructure had slowed transportation inland.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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