The Jones Act has struck again.
NorthJersey.com’s John C. Ensslin reports an emergency shipment of road salt to relieve the state’s depleted supplies are stuck in Maine because the vessel carrying them is not flying a U.S. flag.
Enacted in 1920, the Jones Act (formally the Maritime Act) dictates that all vessels travelling between U.S. ports be American made and fly American colours. It came into existence at a time when the sinking of the Lusitania, which brought the country into World War I, was still fresh in everyone’s minds.
Today that threat has largely vanished.
Yet the law remains on the books, presumably because no elected official would want to deal with the optics of halting something so superficially pro-American.
But just in the past few years we’ve seen several instances of how harmful it is.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, emergency fuel rations could not be brought into the east coast until a federal waiver was obtained.
And many believe the act has kept gas prices elevated, since there is now a shortage of Jones Act-eligible vessels in the U.S. that can deliver the booming crude coming out of the country’s midsection.
A waiver for the situation in New Jersey is currently under discussion, Ensslin writes.
“I’ve not heard from the federal government any reasonable explanation that would preclude a waiver under these circumstances,” Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick said.
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