Keeping up with the Jones Act


Author: Lana Harfoush

One of the many ways in which PLF defends freedom is by opposing protectionist laws and regulatory schemes that stifle competition and hurt consumers. But in order to see the negative impact that protectionist laws can have, one need not look further than the scene of the recent disastrous oil spill in the Gulf region.

Earlier this week, Chris Moody wrote an article for the Daily Caller explaining that protectionist aims of the Jones Act are making the dubious task of Gulf clean up even more difficult. He writes that the ninety-year old Jones Act, “mandates that vessels may only partake in coastwise transport between U.S. ports if they are ‘constructed in the United States, owned by United States citizens and crewed by United States citizens and/or permanent residents.’”

This means that foreign ships offering aid are not legally allowed to assist with cleaning this disaster.  This blatant protectionist policy was waived by former President Bush to allow increased aid during Katrina. Though Moody explains that Coast Guard officials have not turned help away, Obama has yet to officially grant the waiver, prompting three Senators to introduce legislation which would temporarily suspend the Jones Act in areas affected by the spill.

 Daniel Griswold, director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, has more information here.