President Trump waived shipping restrictions for Puerto Rico on Thursday at the request of the island’s governor and after an outcry from Congress about shortages of fuel, food and emergency supplies in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
The decision temporarily lifts the Jones Act’s restrictions prohibiting foreign-flagged vessels from picking up and delivering fuel between U.S. ports.
A one-two punch by Hurricanes Irma and Maria battered the island in recent weeks, leaving residents with shortages of all supplies. Maria wiped out the power supply, destroyed cell towers and led to massive fuel shortages on the island that relies on diesel for much of its power.
Elaine Duke, acting secretary of Homeland Security, said the waiver followed Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello’s request and the Defense Department’s determination that lifting the restrictions was in the interest of national defense. The waiver is in effect 10 days and covers all products.
“It is intended to ensure we have enough fuel and commodities to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations in the wake of these devastating storms,” Duke said.
Rossello quickly thanked Trump for the assistance on Twitter.
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