How the Jones Act makes energy more expensive and less green


The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (aka “The Jones Act”) is a law which requires ships operating between US ports to be owned by, made in, and crewed by US citizens.

While many “Made in the USA” laws are on the books and attract the anger of economists and policy wonks, the Jones Act is particularly egregious as the costs and effects are so large. The Jones Act costs states like Hawaii and Alaska and territories like Puerto Rico dramatically as they rely so much on ships for basic commerce that it was actually cheaper for Hawaii and New England to import oil from other countries (like Hawaii did from Russia until the Ukraine war) than it was to have oil shipped from the Gulf of Mexico (where American oil is abundant).

In the case of offshore wind, the Jones Act has pushed those companies willing to experiment with the promising technology, to ship the required parts and equipment from overseas because there are no Jones Act-compliant ships capable of moving the massive equipment that is involved.

This piece from Canary Media captures some of the dynamics and the “launch” of the still-in-construction $625 million Jones Act-compliant ship the Charybdis Dominion Energy will use to support its offshore wind facility.


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