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 is often justified as a boost to U.S. shipbuilding and naval preparedness.
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 will explain the Jones Act controversy and discuss whether it can be reformed without endangering national security.