AWO’S Allegretti “optimistic” Trump will uphold the Jones Act after proposed waiver rejected

Following a meeting with Republican U.S. senators, President Trump has decided not to go ahead with a proposal to waive Jones Act rules that would have allowed foreign flagged ships to transport natural gas from American ports to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Northeast.

The President’s decision was hailed by Tom Allegretti, president & CEO, The American Waterways Operators.

Tom Allegretti, president & CEO, The American Waterways Operators
Tom Allegretti, president & CEO,
The American Waterways Operators

The day before the President’s meeting with the senators, Senator John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana was quoted as saying: “I am going to go to the White House tomorrow to try to talk the President out of doing something foolish and that is trying to curtail the Jones Act protections…If that is his inclination, then (Trump) has been receiving some bad advice.”
In response to questions from AJOT, Allegretti said, “We are therefore optimistic that when the President considers the 650,000 American jobs supported by the Jones Act, and the importance of the Jones Act to maintaining robust sealift capabilities and protecting our domestic waterways from security threats, he will stay true to his commitment. He came through on that commitment just yesterday (May 1, 2019) in refusing to approve Jones Act waivers that were proposed to him.”
The Jones Act requires that goods shipped between U.S. ports be transported on American-built ships that are owned and crewed by Americans.
Allegretti strongly objects to waivers of the Jones Act: “The use of Jones Act waivers undermines the Jones Act because it undermines confidence in America’s long-term commitment to its maritime industry and workforce. Maritime businesses rely on that commitment and stability to make long-term investments in new vessels, additional employees, and expanded services for customers. The President’s refusal yesterday to approve such waivers should send a clear signal to special interests that their anti-Jones Act proposals will not be approved in this Administration.”
The concern by U.S. senators about the Administration’s current proposal to waive Jones Act provisions was based on past history:
* In September, 2017 the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) waived the Jones Act requirement for one week to allow oil and gas operators to utilize foreign-flagged vessels to ensure fuel reached emergency responders during Hurricane Irma and following Hurricane Harvey.
* A second waiver, later in September of 2017, was approved by the Administration allowing foreign flag carriers to transport goods to Puerto Rico following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. The Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security announced on September 28, 2017 that the Jones Act would be temporarily waived. Reportedly, DHS had faced pressure from U.S. Senators including the late Senator John McCain, a longtime opponent of the Jones Act, demanding that shipments be speeded up using foreign flag vessels.
Allegretti told AJOT there was never any question that U.S. carriers could do the job of supplying Puerto Rico. The real problem, he said, was port facilities and truck transport on the island were seriously damaged by Hurricane Maria:
“From the time Maria made landfall to today, American maritime has demonstrated that it is fully committed to Puerto Rico’s recovery and has the capacity to deliver badly-needed relief supplies, including millions of gallons of fuel, to the island. Unfortunately, in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, Puerto Rico’s internal distribution capabilities were devastated, so that while the Jones Act fleet consistently delivered relief cargo to the island, that cargo was piling up in the port with no way to reach its inland destinations.”

Stas Margaronis
Stas Margaronis


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