Puerto Rico needs more than temporary Jones Act waiver
From Grassroot Institute, September 29, 2017
The stories coming out of Puerto Rico right now are heartrending.
Already suffering from serious economic woes, the island was not prepared for the devastation that followed Hurricane Maria. Rescue and relief efforts have begun, but the challenges of supplies and repair are more substantial when everything needs to be brought in by boat or by plane.
Yesterday the Trump Administration finally granted a Jones Act waiver to aid in the Puerto Rico relief effort, and it goes beyond just fuel to encompass all goods shipped from U.S. ports to the island.
But a temporary waiver isn't going to be enough this time. Puerto Rico had been lobbying to ease Jones Act restrictions long before Maria reached its shores. Much like in Hawaii, the Jones Act has been throttling that island's economy. Now, Puerto Rico faces a substantial rebuilding effort, and the Jones Act will be a cruel and unnecessary burden.
That is why Congress and the president should move to make this temporary Jones Act waiver permanent. Puerto Rico desperately needs meaningful, long-term relief, and removing the regulatory barriers created by the Jones Act's cabotage provisions could help its struggling residents rebuild both their infrastructure and economy.
And Puerto Rico is not the only far-flung U.S. island that deserves consideration in this case. There is a lesson here for Hawaii as well.
Situated far from the U.S. mainland, we are more isolated (and therefore more at risk) in the case of an emergency. The Jones Act is a dead weight on our businesses, and adds to our cost of living. Why should we wait for a disaster to take action when it has become clear that the Act is a continual burden on every state and territory in the nation?
The Jones Act waivers declared after hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria are a wake-up call to Washington, D.C., that it's time to update this dubious legislation for the 21st century.
E hana kakou (Let’s work together!),
Keli'i Akina, Ph.D.
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White House waives Jones Act for Puerto Rico
From Grassroot Institute
HONOLULU, HAWAII, Sept. 28, 2017 >> The Trump Administration today waived the Jones Act for 10 days to aid in recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, devastated by Hurricane Maria a week ago.
Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a policy think tank in Hawaii that has long called for relief from the Jones Act, praised the decision, but said it might need to be extended further.
Until now, Akina said, the Jones Act had been significantly hindering essential relief efforts to the millions of hurricane victims on the island. That’s because the Act requires the transport of goods and passengers between U.S. ports to be on vessels built and flagged in the U.S. and crewed predominantly by Americans. This obviously limits how many ships can be deployed to disaster zones, and raises the costs for the limited few that can be deployed.
“Waivers from the Jones Act helped Florida and Texas deal with hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and now it will help Puerto Rico,” said Akina. “This may save lives.”
Today’s waiver applies to all goods shipped from U.S. ports to Puerto Rico, which is a change from the waivers that were in place from Sept. 8-22, which applied to only petroleum products.
“The Trump administration’s decision to suspend the Jones Act will help provide needed goods to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico,” Akina said. “However, the 10-day waiver will probably need to be extended to help Puerto Rico rebuild.”
Akina added: “If relief from the law helps America’s economy during disaster situations, surely it could also help in non-disaster times as well. This is further evidence that the outdated Jones Act law should be updated for the 21st century.”
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is an independent, nonprofit research and educational institution devoted to promoting individual liberty, economic freedom and accountable government.
Its president, Dr. Akina, is a recognized scholar, public policy spokesperson and community leader in Hawaii. He is an expert in East-West philosophy and ethics, has taught at universities in China and the United States, and continues as an adjunct instructor at Hawaii Pacific University. In 2016, he was elected trustee-at-large for the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
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National attention on Jones Act 'good for Hawaii'
PBN: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii President and CEO Kelii Akina said the national of attention on the Jones Act due to recent hurricanes on the eastern seaboard is "good for Hawaii," due to the likelihood that the state could find itself in a similar crisis.
“Like Puerto Rico we are surrounded by water, and we are extremely dependent on keeping the shipping lines open,” Akina told Pacific Business News. “In times of emergency, the Jones Act could be catastrophic in terms of preventing relief from getting to Hawaii.” ….
In a tweet posted early Thursday, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he called on the White House to temporarily waive the regulation, which is primarily aimed at protecting U.S. shipbuilders.
“While we don’t think it is necessary to repeal the nearly 100 year-old law, we do think it’s essential to update the Jones Act for the 21st century,” Akina said.
Akina said he doesn’t think it’s necessary to deal with the aspect of the Jones Act that requires ships to be owned by United States shippers, he said it is essential that shippers be allowed to buy ships built by foreign entities, due to a “critical shortage of ships being built by American shipyards.”
“That one shift in the Jones Act to allow American shippers to purchase ships from our allies could tremendously help the economy in Hawaii and other parts of the United States,” he said….
read … Good for Hawaii
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Heritage Influences White House to Waive the Jones Act
From Heritage Foundation, September 27th, 2017 (Updated Sept 28, 2017)
Faced with providing hurricane battered Florida and Puerto Rico with extra fuel, the Trump Administration made a move that Heritage has advocated by temporarily suspending the Jones Act.
The Jones Act, passed in the 1920’s, is a regulation which prevented vessels from shipping between American ports unless they were using American made ships crewed by Americans.
Prior to the suspension, Salim Furth, a research fellow in Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis, wrote in The Daily Signal that “Acting immediately to waive the Jones Act will allow fuel, food, water, medicine, and rebuilding supplies to reach Puerto Rico with maximum speed and at the lowest cost.” Furth noted that not only did the Jones Act impede normal business dealings, but that it was detrimental during national disasters.
At a White House press briefing, homeland security advisor Tom Bossart admitted the concern for extra fuel was the motivation behind suspending the Jones Act saying.
"We are worried about the fuel shortages,” said Bossart. "We are bringing in as much supply of refined fuel as possible, and we've waived a particular statute that allows for foreign-flagged vessels to help in that effort.”
“It is encouraging to see Heritage research implemented by the Trump Administration, that will have a positive impact for those struggling in Florida and Puerto Rico,” said Jack Spencer, Vice President for Heritage’s Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity.
At the end of the Trump administrations one-week waiver Furth wrote again in The Daily Signal that Puerto Rico needs a much more extensive waiver to rebuild from Hurricane Maria’s direct hit.
“Given the scale of the damage to Puerto Rico and the multiyear rebuilding effort to come, Trump should issue a blanket waiver from the Jones Act for Puerto Rico for as long as the territory continues to use federal aid dollars in its rebuilding,” said Furth.
On September 28 the Department of Homeland Security issued another temporary waiver.
“This waiver will ensure that over the next ten days, all options are available to move and distribute goods to the people of Puerto Rico. 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,” said Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke.
Furth says this is great news but that Puerto Rico isn’t going to get back to normal in 10 days.
“President Trump should instruct the Department of Homeland Security to waive the Jones Act for as long as Puerto Rico is spending federal emergency funds. It does not make sense to give Puerto Rico aid money and then prevent them from effectively spending that money buying materials from mainland American businesses."
Read more about why in natural disasters, the Jones Act is especially onerous and why Congress should grant a permanent exemption from the Jones Act for all fuel tankers.
*This article has was edited on September 28 to reflect the new temporary waiver and additional impact .