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Relaxing the Jones Act would provide economic relief for recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, says expert

September 27, 2017

U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducts search and rescue in mountains of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

While conducting search and rescue in the mountains of Puerto Rico a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations Black Hawk located this home a half mile from its peek with HELP painted it is roof.
While conducting search and rescue in the mountains of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations Black Hawk located this home a half mile from its peek with HELP painted it is roof. Photo credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

As recovery efforts continue for the devastated island of Puerto Rico, Virginia Tech expert Marc Fialkoff says that “relaxing the Jones Act would provide humanitarian support and provide economic relief for those on the island, given that shipping and air are the primary modes for transporting goods to the island.”

Under the Jones Act, transportation between ports and coastwise points in the United States needs to be done on vessels built in the United States and crewed by U.S. citizens. This means that foreign vessels cannot move between U.S. ports, including Puerto Rico, explains Fialkoff. 

“If the Jones Act is relaxed, foreign vessels can move between the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico to provide aid. The waiver is only given in narrow circumstances. Recently it was given for moving oil and petroleum products out of the Gulf for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.” 

“Relaxing the Jones Act makes it cheaper for Puerto Rico to get goods and provide more opportunities for vessels to get humanitarian aid to the island,” says Fialkoff.

About Fialkoff

Marc Fialkoff is a lawyer and recently defended his doctoral dissertation in the Planning, Governance and Globalization (PGG) program at Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs. He is currently an adjunct professor at SPIA. His research focuses on freight transportation planning, law, and critical infrastructure resilience and security. He received a law degree from Roger Williams University School of Law and a masters in sustainability in transport from the University of Leeds. Read more here.

Schedule Interview
To secure an interview with Fialkoff, please contact Shannon Andrea in the media relations office at sandrea@vt.edu or 571-858-3262. 

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