POLITICS

Law From 1920 Blocks Aid To New Jersey As State Runs Out Of Rock Salt

02/18/2014 03:24 pm ET | Updated Feb 18, 2014

As New Jersey faces another round of harsh winter weather, 40,000 tons of New Jersey-bound rock salt has been stuck at a port in Maine because the Department of Homeland Security denied the state’s request to waive a provision requiring transport on an American-flagged vessel, according to New Jersey 101.5.

The shipment, which could reach the Port of Newark in two days, was held up for failing to comply with the Jones Act, a 1920s maritime law that mandates commercial vessels transporting shipments between U.S. ports to be built and operated by U.S. citizens and to fly a U.S. flag, according to Jim Simpson, New Jersey’s transportation commissioner.

"I've got a shipload of salt, 400 miles from here with a ship sitting empty at the dock that can bring it to Newark and we're working with the federal government because we don’t have an American flag vessel," Simpson said in an interview on the Townsquare Radio Network on Friday. "And the only thing that we've been able to define as an American flag vessel would take us a month to get the salt here when I can have the salt here in a day and a half."

In the meantime, slower-moving barges have been dispatched to retrieve the blocked shipment. It is projected to take several weeks to recover all 40,000 tons of rock salt, according to the New York Times.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop also expressed concern over his city's inability to safeguard its streets against winter weathers.

"We go through about 800 tons of salt per storm, we're getting 500 today, so we're not really up to where we need to be entirely," Fulop told WCBS 880 on Monday. "This will get us through one event."

In 2012, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) request to waive the Jones Act flag provision was approved under the Obama administration in an effort to alleviate fuel shortages in the Northeast after Hurricane Sandy.

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