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What Is the Jones Act Waiver? Plus Other FAQs Answered

The United States must keep its borders protected at all costs. One of the primary ways that the country remains shielded is through The Jones Act. It mandates that products shipped between American ports are to only do so through ships owned and operated by US citizens.
However, there are times when this particular law halts via the Jones Act Waiver. When natural disasters and other issues arise, the Jones Act is amended in order to work in the best interest of the country. With that said, below is more information about the Jones Act Waiver.

What Is the Jones Act Waiver?

The Trump administration granted a provisional waiver of the Jones Act on September 28 to help respond to Hurricane Maria’s destruction in Puerto Rico.

Related exemptions were released in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. It was also done for Hurricane Irma in Florida, in recent times. The aim of this CRS Perspective is to illustrate the procedure for receiving exemptions under this legislation.

The Jones Act mandates that vessels carrying goods or travelers between U.S. ports operate in the United States. It must a function using a minimum of 75% Americans and crew primarily by Americans. This regulation excludes the US Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico is withdrawn for travelers but not for freight.

The Jones Act’s provisions may restrict the number of ships accessible at some times and locations in the United States. This is why they are often waived momentarily in response to severe hurricanes.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in September 2005, an 18-day waiver was granted. It allowed international tankers to transport fuel and petroleum products along the Gulf Coast.

A waiver came shortly after in reference to Hurricane Rita, which was mostly for the purpose of transporting petrol.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, a three-week permit was issued to transfer gasoline to the Northeast. During the Libyan crisis in July and August 2011, the Jones Act was repealed to encourage international tankers to transport oil from the United States. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is a reserve of petroleum that The Federal Register releases notices on these and other exemptions.

The Jones Act Waiver Statute

The Jones Act forbids the transportation of goods by sea, or by land and water around sites in the United States.  It must specifically use a foreign port unless the ship came from the United States.

It’s controlled by Americans and flagged in the United States. If it is “necessary in the name of national defense,” the Jones Act may be waived. Jones Act waivers split into two categories.

One form of request submitted by the Secretary of Defense is immediately authorized. The Secretary of Homeland Security may issue the other form of waiver at their discretion. It is arbitrary and only allowed if the Administrator of the Maritime Administration (“MARAD”) decides that there are no US-flag ships remaining.

Temporary Jones Act Waivers

Procedures for receiving exemptions from U.S. navigation and vessel-inspection regulations include the Jones Act. They are enacted at 46 U.S.C. Section 501. It states that an exemption can only go out if the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of Homeland Security deems it “appropriate in the case of national defense.”

A permit provided by the Department of Homeland Security necessitates a decision by the Maritime Administrator. It says that Jones Act-qualified ships are insufficiently usable to fulfill national security needs.

Permanent Waivers

Vessels may request permanent exemptions of Jones Act provisions in addition to the provisional waivers listed above. Tiny passenger ships are eligible for a permanent Jones Act waiver. The Maritime Administration will suspend the Jones Act’s U.S. build provision for passenger ships carrying no more than 12 travelers for hire.

It’s approved by the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1998. Although a small foreign-built ship could transport passengers between two US coasts, it must also be owned and operated by Americans. When the Maritime Administration gets such an appeal and decides whether to issue or deny a waiver, it issues a note in the Federal Register.

Individual vessels are often granted permanent exceptions from the Jones Act by Congress. This is most prevalent in Coast Guard reauthorization laws. In most cases, the statute simply specifies the vessel’s name and identification number, but knowledge of the waiver’s rationale is not readily accessible.

The Jones Act Waiver Process

The first step in obtaining a Jones Act waiver is to apply a letter to US Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), a DHS department. As CBP receives a waiver letter, it sends it to MARAD, the Secretary of DHS, DOD, and, if the transit connects to power, the Department of Energy (“DOE”).

MARAD studies the shipping sector to assess the capabilities and capacity of coastwise ships. They must meet the needs of the required transportation to decide whether there are U.S.-flag ships available to meet the requirements.

Following the submission of the applications, DHS conducts a series of consultations. The Secretary of DHS negotiates with the Department of Defense to determine the “national security” norm. If a region under the control of another entity is affected, the appropriate agency can also weigh in.

If wood must transport, the Department of Interior will be able to help. Lastly, DHS and the MARAD Administrator will communicate with the domestic maritime sector.

To learn more about maritime laws, visit the Roberts Markland website.

Understanding the Jones Act Waiver

Hopefully, the information above helps you understand more about the Jones Act Waiver. If you’re interested in reading more articles like this, browse more of our website. We publish content related to business, home improvement, fashion, entertainment, and much more.

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