The Many Distortions of the Jones Act

Oil tanker at the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Marine Terminal in Valdez, Alaska, in 2008. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
The law pointlessly hurts consumers and producers of American energy.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE P rotectionism isn’t always bad. But sometimes protectionist measures are so poorly designed that they hurt everyone, including the intended beneficiaries, and wind up benefiting America’s foreign competitors most of all. A glaring example of this is the Jones Act, which in terms of costs and benefits may well be the worst law in America.

This century-old law requires any ship carrying goods between two American “points” to be manufactured in America, crewed by Americans, and owned by Americans. It sounds like a policy of “America First” (which explains why it has any supporters at all, beyond those with skin in the

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Mario Loyola is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the director of the Environmental Finance and Risk Management Program of Florida International University, and a visiting fellow at the National Security Institute of George Mason University. The opinions expressed in this column are his alone.


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