A week after Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi is asking the United States government for special permission to allow a ship carrying diesel fuel to dock on the island. This move would relieve hundreds of thousands of residents still without power.
The ship is currently unable to deliver the fuel to the island because of an obscure federal statute known as The Jones Act (or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920). It requires that goods transported between U.S. ports be carried on ships built in the United States and that the ships are owned and operated by U.S. citizens.
“I have requested the personal intervention of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security so that a ship contracted by a private supplier, loaded with diesel and located near Puerto Rico, can unload the fuel for the benefit of our people,” Pierluisi tweeted. “Likewise, my administration continues to work to ensure the speeding up of shipments of diesel and gasoline to the island.”
According to NBC News, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it would “continue to examine individual requests for Jones Act waivers on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with the Maritime Administration, Departments of Defense, and Energy.”
According to David Begnaud, a national correspondent for CBS, Joel Pizá Batiz, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, said Pierluisi talked to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on the phone. He asked the government to grant a waiver for 7 to 10 days so the island could receive the 300,000 barrels of diesel sitting idly on the coast.
“We’re going to put the Puerto Rican people first,” Batiz said. “We’re going to leverage every contact in the Biden Administration to provide diesel to the people of Puerto Rico.”