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Repeal or Reform the Jones Act

August 12, 2020
By Mario Loyola

The Jones Act is a protectionist measure that hampers the U.S.'s ability to recover from natural disasters, including the Coronavirus pandemic. It should be repealed.

From the study:

The Jones Act—is particularly hard to justify. Its purpose is protectionist, but it is so poorly designed that it favors foreign sellers over American ones.

The Jones Act requires any ship traveling between two U.S. points to be U.S.- manufactured, -owned, -flagged, and -crewed.1 This heavy-handed protectionist measure was enacted in 1920 with the stated purpose of ensuring a strong merchant marine to support America’s commerce and the nation’s preparedness for war and national emergency. A century later, the evidence is clear. For 100 years the law has not only failed to accomplish any of its stated objectives, it has systematically undermined all of them, and continues to do so today. The law has succeeded mostly in putting most of America’s maritime industry out of business, while making it pointlessly difficult for Americans to buy American. 

The impact of the Jones Act on American energy is particularly difficult to justify in today’s world of globally dominant North American oil production and falling prices. East Coast refineries are forced to import 3 oil and gas from foreign countries while America’s own Gulf Coast suppliers drown in an ocean of cheap oil and gas, desperate for markets.6 If it not for the Jones Act, America might be able to cut its imports of crude oil by half. 

Article Tags
Economy Energy