Trump's American Energy Boom Should Reach Puerto Rico

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By Jon Decker

This week President Trump took a well-deserved victory lap for all the work his administration has done to promote the development of America's energy resources. As President Trump noted in his speech, "We’re unlocking American energy, and the United States is now a net exporter of clean, affordable, American natural gas.  We’re exporting all over the world." But it's not quite all over the world; while natural gas production has reached record highs under President Trump, there is one place where the U.S.  isn't exporting LNG that provides Trump with an opportunity to further strengthen America's energy dominance: Puerto Rico.

Strange as it may sound, the United States does not export natural gas to one of its own territories. As my colleague Phil Kerpen explained at CNS News:

Ships are leaving American ports loaded with LNG for countries all over the planet, but they cannot deliver to Puerto Rico, specifically because it is part of the United States.  The 1920 Jones Act restricts the transportation of cargo between two American ports to ships that are U.S.-built, U.S.-crewed, U.S.-owned, and U.S. flagged.  However, as the government of Puerto Rico noted in its waiver request:“of the 478 LNG carriers that currently exist in the world, none are Jones Act eligible.” Thus, without a waiver, Puerto Rico simply cannot transport American LNG to Puerto Rico.

In a nutshell – a law dating back to prohibition prevents states from selling natural gas to Puerto Rico, and forces the island to buy gas from foreign competitors to our domestic LNG industry.

Thankfully, there is a simple fix to this badly outdated law. President Trump could grant Puerto Rico a waiver from the Jones Act that would allow residents to import cleaner, more affordable energy. It was also provide a meaningful boost to the island's economy as it continues to rebuild from Hurricane Maria.

It is time to put 'America First' by allowing Puerto Rico customers to purchase natural gas from places like Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. President Trump's administration should jump ship on the Jones Act and expand America's energy boom.

Photo Credit: Brad Clinesmith from Wilkes-Barre, PA