A BP ship carrying vital diesel fuel necessary for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico has been stuck in limbo, awaiting a response from the White House since Sunday due to a law known as the Jones Act, The Washington Post reports. Puerto Rican officials have been putting pressure on the Biden administration to waive the law prohibiting access. Due to the recent Hurricane Fiona, thousands of Puerto Rican citizens continue to lack power.
The union-backed Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, stipulates that shipping between U.S. ports had to be facilitated by U.S.-owned ships built in the states only, per NBC News. Since the vessel with the much-needed diesel is not U.S. owned, officials are forced to wait for Biden to approve a waiver to gain access.
Puerto Rican Gov. Pedro Pierluisi tweeted that he had reached out to the Department of Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, asking him to step in and allow the boat to dock "for the benefit of our people."
White House officials said that the broad waiver Puerto Rico seeks is not within their authority. To waive the Jones Act, the administration must undergo a complex interagency process to ensure it is legal.
The pressure continued to mount as the White House did not waive the act by Monday, causing an outcry from activists and members of Congress. According to the Post, lawmakers from Puerto Rico met with administration officials on Monday to petition for a temporary waiver in light of the circumstances, but the decision continues to be delayed.