Keeping Up with the Jones Act

June 4, 2019

The Jones Act is back in the news, with legislation introduced this year to repeal the law and the White House said to be considering a limited waiver of the law for the transport of liquefied natural gas. It’s about time. For nearly 100 years, the Jones Act has served as a burden on the U.S. economy and has raised transportation costs, damaged the environment, and even harmed U.S. exports. In the course of doing so, it has also manifestly failed to achieve its stated policy goals, with U.S. shipbuilding and the Jones Act fleet itself in a decades-long decline. Questions also abound about the law’s contribution to national security, as illustrated by the shortage of merchant mariners to crew the government-owned vessels in times of war and the Navy unable to afford ships from vastly uncompetitive U.S. shipyards to meet its sealift needs.

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