Time to Reform the Jones Act?

Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, colloquially known as the Jones Act, requires that shipments between two U.S. ports be on U.S.-built, U.S.-manned, and U.S.-owned vessels. Because of the Jones Act, it is often more expensive to ship supplies between U.S. ports than it is to ship supplies abroad. The Act was adopted in 1920 to support naval preparedness by boosting the U.S. shipbuilding industry.

But is it time to scale back the Jones Act? The U.S. energy export boom is leaving U.S. consumers behind because it is cheaper to ship oil and liquefied natural gas all the way to Europe or Asia than to the U.S. East Coast. And the Jones Act, long a drag on Puerto Rico’s economy, is also raising the cost of all the aid necessary to help the island recover from Hurricane Maria. This expert panel explores the Jones Act controversy and discusses whether it can be reformed without endangering national security.

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As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

James W. Coleman

Associate Professor of Law

Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law


Rob Quartel

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

NTELX


Jonathan Waldron

Partner

Blank Rome


Nicolas Loris

Fellow in Energy and Environmental Policy

The Heritage Foundation


Energy & Environment

The Heritage Foundation

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