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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Amid fuel price spikes, House speaker presses US gov’t for cabotage laws waiver

House Speaker Rafael Hernández Montañez

By The Star Staff

Speaker of the House of Representatives Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez said Tuesday that he lobbied the federal government for a temporary waiver of the U.S. maritime shipping laws so that oil and its derivatives can be transported to Puerto Rico in international ships instead of U.S.-flagged ships.

“Despite the fact that we have a relationship with the United States government, the oil that reaches Puerto Rico does not come from the United States,” Hernández Montañez said in response to questions from the press.

He said the oil and fuel that arrives in Puerto Rico comes from jurisdictions outside the United States, but due to cabotage laws those shipments have to be brought to the United States so they can be transferred to U.S.-flagged ships that then bring the cargo to the island.

Transportation costs are passed on to consumers, he said.

“We are making the approach there and here,” the House speaker said. “We are asking the federal government and we are going to legislate here so that, from a structural point of view, Puerto Rico can access the oil product … from other flags. We are talking about diesel, gasoline and natural gas. This is going to substantially address the price of crude oil and its derivatives on the island.”

Hernández Montañez said that if the state and federal governments approve the measure, the dispensation would be for the duration of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The move follows a measure proposed by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia to temporarily repeal the excise tax on gasoline to reduce costs for consumers.

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