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DHS grants Jones Act waiver, allowing a ship carrying much-needed diesel fuel to dock in Puerto Rico

The Department of Homeland Security has granted a Jones Act waiver, allowing a ship that has been trying to deliver diesel fuel to the hurricane-ravaged island of Puerto Rico to dock.

“In response to the urgent and immediate needs of the Puerto Rican people in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, I have approved a temporary and specific exemption from the Jones Act to ensure that the people of Puerto Rico have enough diesel to run the generators necessary for electricity and electricity. critical facilities operating as they recover from Hurricane Fiona,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Wednesday.

The ship was expected to dock in Puerto Rico on Thursday, the US Coast Guard said. he told CBS News.

the Jones Act is a law that dates back more than 100 years and requires that goods traveling between US ports be delivered on vessels primarily built in the US and owned and operated by Americans.

A vessel called the GH Parks carrying 300,000 barrels of diesel and sailing under the Marshall Islands flag had stalled off the coast of Puerto Rico, the US Coast Guard said. She left the city of Texas on Sunday for Guayanilla, according to maritime tracking databut had been stuck since reaching the shores of Puerto Rico on Monday.

More than a week after Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico and downed power lineshundreds of thousands on the island were still experiencing blackouts.

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierlusi had directly asked the US government to grant the ship approval to enter the port and unload. Pierlusi said on Monday that called Mayorkas to intervene and expedite the request for the ship to “unload the fuel for the benefit of our people.”

Mayorkas said Wednesday that the decision to grant the waiver “was made in consultation with the Departments of Transportation, Energy and Defense to assess the justification for the waiver request and based on input from the Governor of Puerto Rico and others on the ground.” that support recovery. efforts”.

He also noted in his statement that “In 2020, Congress eliminated the Federal Government’s authority to issue comprehensive, long-term waivers, except in circumstances where a waiver is required to ‘address an immediate adverse effect on military operations.’ Under the law, exemptions that do not meet that standard must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”

It is unclear exactly who owns and operates GH Parks. Weather records listing GY Shipco XII LLC and Synergy Maritime Private Limited as owner and operator, respectively, the Puerto Rican government told CBS News it believed British Petroleum was connected to the diesel shipment. CBS News has contacted BP but has not received a response.

Peerless Oil & Chemicals, the agency that requested the delivery of diesel to GH Parks, supplies diesel and gasoline to thousands of service stations throughout Puerto Rico, as well as hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, the US Navy and the government of Puerto Rico. The general manager of the company, Luis Vázquez, said The new day that he requested the route from GH Parks to Guayanilla in the wake of Fiona, and the government was aware of his imminent arrival.

Fiona caused catastrophic damage when it made landfall earlier this month in Puerto Rico, which is still dealing with the fallout caused by Hurricane Maria five years ago. That storm had lingering repercussions on Puerto Rico’s power grid, and residents have grown accustomed to shockingly high temperatures. electricity bills and ongoing blackouts since then.

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