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Trump considering waiving Jones Act mandate for natural gas, sources say

Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Jenny Leonard and Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

"The Jones Act is completely contrary to the president's energy agenda, in large measure because it encourages the importation of energy -- diesel from Europe, LNG from Russia -- rather than the use of energy made in America and developed and refined by American workers," said Mike McKenna, a Republican energy strategist. "If you're in favor of the Jones Act, you're in favor of damaging consumers and helping very specific interests line their pockets at consumers' expense."

Trump has waived the requirements on a limited basis, granting Puerto Rico a temporary reprieve in 2017, after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island. Trump also briefly lifted Jones Act requirements to ensure gasoline, diesel and jet fuel could be moved among U.S. states more quickly after the storm.

Unlike short-term, emergency waivers, longer-term exemptions could pave the way for commercial contracts to supply natural gas.

Puerto Rico's push for a 10-year waiver drew swift pushback from the bipartisan leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who in February sent a letter to the Homeland Security Department arguing there was no justification for the move. Jones Act waivers are meant to be rare, limited only to cases where there is a national defense need, and there is "no valid national defense rationale" to waive the requirements for Puerto Rico, they said.

The American Maritime Partnership, which defends the Jones Act, did not have an immediate comment. But a study commissioned and previously released by the group found that the shipping restrictions have no impact on retail prices or the cost of living in Puerto Rico.


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