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Trump considering Jones Act waiver for LNG, sources say

Apr 24, 2019 04:52 PM

Proponents say the move would cut costs for Puerto Rico and ease the flow of gas to the Northeast

Courtesy Wikimedia

(WASHINGTON) — President Trump is considering waiving the Jones Act so foreign-flagged vessels can move liquefied natural gas (LNG) from American ports to Puerto Rico or the Northeast, according to people familiar with the deliberations, Bloomberg reported.

The issue was debated during an Oval Office meeting on Monday, following requests from Puerto Rico and pressure from oil industry leaders to ease the requirements, according to three people. Although top administration officials are divided on the issue, Trump is now leaning in favor of some kind of waiver, said two of the people, who asked for anonymity to discuss the private deliberations.

The move – which would be fought by U.S shipbuilding interests and their allies on Capitol Hill – has been promoted as essential to lower the cost of energy in Puerto Rico and ease the flow of American natural gas to the Northeast, where there aren’t enough pipelines to deliver the product from Pennsylvania.

But even inside the Trump administration, there are fierce defenders of the Jones Act, the 1920 law requiring that vessels moving cargo between two U.S. ports be U.S.-built, U.S.-owned and U.S.-crewed. That divide was apparent during Monday’s White House meeting, where Jones Act supporters included Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, pushed for waiving the Jones Act.

Trump faces increasing pressure to relax the shipping requirements. Puerto Rico is seeking a 10-year waiver to allow LNG to be delivered to the island on foreign-flagged vessels.

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The following is a statement from the American Maritime Partnership (AMP):

(WASHINGTON) — The American Maritime Partnership, the voice of the nation’s domestic maritime industry, on Tuesday released the following statement from AMP Chairman Matt Woodruff following recent media reports that speculated on President Trump’s support for the domestic maritime industry.

“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. 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.”

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