NJ senators plead for road salt waiver

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Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) are pressing the Obama administration to waive a domestic shipping rule that is preventing New Jersey from receiving 40,000 tons of emergency road salt.

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Under a 1920 law, shipments between domestic ports must be made on American-made ships. The salt is sitting on a foreign-made ship, which means it can't be transferred from the Port of Maine to the port at Newark, N.J., without first being placed on smaller vessels.

Menendez and Booker said federal officials should make an exception to get the salt to New Jersey, which has endured a difficult winter with heavy snowfall.

“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 senators wrote in a letter to the departments of Transportation and Homeland Security.

“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 Obama administration earlier this year made an exception to the maritime shipping rules so that New Jersey could receive a 10,000 ton shipment of road salt.

New Jersey has applied for another exemption through the normal channels, but the senators said they were getting involved to help expedite the process.

“Recognizing that such waivers require an interagency review of the national security merits of the waiver request, we appreciate the Administration’s swift review,” Menendez and Booker continued. “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.”