With the crisis in Ukraine growing and oil prices rising, U.S. Congressman Ed Case on Tuesday asked President Biden to grant a waiver from the federal Jones Act.

A press release from Case’s office said such an action would permit international shipping to ship oil and other petroleum products from mainland U.S. ports to Hawaii “to allow for full replacement from domestic supply of the some one-third of total Hawaii oil imports from Russia,” something that was banned Tuesday by the president.

The Jones Act requires all shipping between U.S. ports to be provided by U.S.-built and flagged vessels.

Case, a Democrat representing the 1st Congressional District, also introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives today to mandate such a waiver.

“I join the vast majority of the people of Hawaii in support of your decision to ban imports of Russian oil and other fossil fuel products,” Case wrote Biden. “This is a necessary and unavoidable action if we are to implement the full range of available sanctions against Russia for its unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine.”

Matson Shipping containers ship sand island1. 17 april 2017
Rep. Case wants President Biden to waive the Jones Act on shipping because of the Ukraine war and its impact on oil prices. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2017

Without action Case warned that the people of Hawaii will be asked to “bear consequences far out of proportion to those of most other Americans.”

The “best replacement” for Russian oil imports to Hawaii is domestic supply, but the transport of that supply 2,500 miles to the islands is subject to the Jones Act requiring transport to occur exclusively on “a very limited number” of domestic vessels.

The last time a waiver order was executed was in 2017, when President Trump temporarily waived the Jones Act to allow for disaster relief efforts to be shipped to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Case also wrote Matt Cox, the president and CEO of Matson, and George W. Pasha IV, chairman, president and CEO of The Pasha Group, who dominate the Jones Act shipping trade from the West Coast to Hawaii, asking for their support of his waiver and bill.

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