The Biden administration will not allow a foreign diesel ship to offload fuel to power Puerto Rico’s electric power plants despite the fact that one million Puerto Ricans are without power. The Jones Act was passed to placate unions and prohibits foreign ships from delivering fuel to US ports.


The Biden administration is under increasing pressure to approve a federal waiver to permit a foreign diesel ship to enter a port in Puerto Rico, but administration officials have emphasized that they need to ensure the move would be legal before they move forward.

The request to waive the Jones Act would allow in a British Petroleum ship loaded with diesel that’s currently being blocked from entering one of Puerto Rico’s ports. The ship would provide a potentially vital source of fuel for the island, which is still struggling to regain power following the devastation of Hurricane Fiona last week.

The Jones Act – also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 – requires all goods ferried between US ports to be carried on ships built, owned and operated by Americans. But those ships are far more expensive to buy and operate than foreign ones, making just about everything in Puerto Rico more expensive.

The Department of Homeland Security is “actively” working on the approval process by waiving the Jones Act, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell said on Tuesday. But she also emphasized that the request must meet legal requirements put in place by Congress.

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