Sens. Menendez, Booker Urge Feds to Expedite Shipment of Road Salt to NJ

Sens. Menendez, Booker Urge Feds to Expedite Shipment of Road Salt to NJ

NEWARK, NJ - U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) sent a letter today to both U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx requesting that they continue to assist New Jersey with receiving a critical supply of rock salt. They acknowledged both agencies' role in securing maritime delivery of a 10,000-ton supplemental supply for the Garden State.

"The State of New Jersey has been among the hardest hit states this winter season, with more than 70 inches of snow accumulated in some parts of the state," wrote the Senators. "The Governor has issued at least four state of emergency alerts. Several cities and municipalities are reporting shortages of rock salt, which has the potential to endanger motorists and the general public in future snow events."

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) reportedly filed a request with DHS on February 13, 2014 to waive the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 under the national security exception and allow a foreign-flagged vessel to deliver more than 40,000 tons of rock salt from Maine to Port Newark. The federal law, commonly known as the Jones Act, has played a critical role in maintaining America's strong maritime industry and requires ships carrying cargo between U.S. ports to be carried on U.S.-flagged vessels.

The Senators each first learned of the NJDOT's emergent need from media reports on Friday, February 14th, and immediately instructed their respective staffs to contact DHS on behalf of New Jersey residents seeking a swift and favorable resolution. That same day, DHS confirmed to Senate staff that it is considering the State's request for a waiver of the Jones Act.

"We urge your agencies to continue to assist the State of New Jersey to help procure and deliver rock salt for the purposes of public safety and security," the Senators continued in the letter.

Sens. Menendez and Booker noted that states have been granted administrative waivers for the transport of energy resources in emergency situations.

Full text of the Senators' letter can be downloaded here and follows:

February 18, 2014

The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Secretary of Homeland Security
650 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington DC 20528

The Honorable Anthony Foxx
Secretary of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington DC 20590

Dear Secretary Johnson and Secretary Foxx:

Thank you for your assistance in working with the State of New Jersey to identify maritime transportation for the delivery of a 10,000 ton supplemental supply of rock salt, with a commitment of additional assistance. We urge the Administration to explore every possible avenue to assist the State.

As you are aware, the State of New Jersey has been among the hardest hit states this winter season, with more than 70 inches of snow accumulated in some parts of the state. The Governor has issued at least four state of emergency alerts. Several cities and municipalities are reporting shortages of rock salt, which has the potential to endanger motorists and the general public in future snow events. Reports indicate the state will see additional snow accumulation this week. The shortage of rock salt is truly a critical national need.

We understand that on February 13, 2014, the New Jersey Department of Transportation filed a request with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to waive the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 in order to allow a foreign-flagged vessel to transport more than 40,000 tons of rock salt to Port Newark. Recognizing that such waivers require an interagency review of the national security merits of the waiver request, we appreciate the Administration's swift review.

We urge your agencies to continue to assist the State of New Jersey in the procurement and delivery of rock salt for the purposes of public safety and security. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

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