The Jones Act’s Harm in Real‐​Time [Cato]

SEPTEMBER 26, 2022 12:53PM

By Colin Grabow

PR tanker

As Puerto Rico reels from the impact of Hurricane Fiona, a ship laden with 300,000 barrels of diesel fuel from Texas has arrived off the island’s southern coast that could help supply the island’s numerous power generators. Thanks to the Jones Act, however, unloading the valuable and timely cargo would be illegal. Passed in 1920, the Jones Act restricts the waterborne domestic transport of goods—such as the transportation of diesel fuel from Texas to Puerto Rico—to vessels that are U.S.-flagged, U.S.-built and mostly U.S.-crewed and owned. But the tanker transporting the U.S. diesel fuel, like over 99 percent of the world’s nearly 54,000 ships, does not meet these requirements. And so both it and the people of Puerto Rico must wait and hope that the Biden administration grants a waiver of this law—something that by the letter of the law can only be done for national defense.

This is the Jones Act’s harm in real‐​time.

Reprinted with permission.