Bloomberg reported Tuesday that President Donald Trump is considering waiving the Jones Act requirement that only U.S.-flagged vessels can move natural gas from U.S. ports to Puerto Rico or the Northeast.
The issue was debated during an Oval Office meeting on Monday after the administration received requests from Puerto Rico and after getting pressured by the oil industry to waive Jones Act requirements, according to three people familiar with the deliberations Bloomberg said. The report said that although top administration officials are divided on the issue, Trump was leaning toward granting a waiver, said two of the people, who asked Bloomberg for anonymity.
Any Jones Act waiver would be staunchly opposed by U.S shipbuilders, groups such as the American Waterways Operators, the Offshore Marine Service Association and the American Maritime Partnership (AMP), and many members of Congress. Supporters of the waiver, and similar efforts in the past, say it is needed to lower the cost of LNG in Puerto Rico and to make it easier for natural gas to reach the Northeast, which has a shortage of pipelines to deliver the product.
AMP Chairman Matt Woodruff, following recent media reports that speculated on President Trump’s support for the domestic maritime industry, commented on the potential Jones Act waiver.
“The 650,000 Americans whose jobs depend on the domestic maritime industry would find it inconceivable that President Trump — who is committed to putting ‘America First,’ supporting U.S. jobs and manufacturing, and also just last month signed an Executive Order helping military veterans transition into the American maritime industry — would choose to favor foreign shipping interests over American workers," Woodruff said in a statement. "American maritime is the quintessential ‘America First’ industry and we are confident President Trump who has championed and supported our American shipyards, mariners, and industrial base, would not start us down a path now that would cripple our national security.”