Increased energy prices in the wake of Russia’s war on Ukraine have caused critics of the Jones Act to claim the law is contributing to more expensive domestic petroleum products.
The law merely limits waterway shipping within the U.S. to American-built and -owned ships crewed by Americans, but its detractors falsely claim that repealing it would help lower costs.
The fact is the cheapest and safest way to move petroleum and natural gas products across a nation — and even a continent — is through pipelines.
The real culprit behind the high cost of transporting energy are extremists who oppose pipelines and prevent them from being built. Without such needed pipelines we will continue to pay too much to transport petroleum.
The Jones Act has nothing to do with these costs and in fact has many benefits. It is time for its opponents to stop playing politics.
As Americans have vividly seen in the last few years, building a pipeline is a political football. It takes years, even decades, to obtain the required political approvals.
And even once obtained, such permits can be reversed by know-nothing political activists. So this political circus arranged by these pipeline circus clowns means we overpay to transport oil.
The U.S. has more than 3 million miles of pipelines linking natural gas production and storage facilities with millions of American consumers — including homes. Those who argue that pipelines are inherently dangerous are simply wrong.
We have decades of data with millions of miles of pipelines — even going through neighborhoods. Pipelines are reliable, economical and safe.
Likewise, gasoline isn’t typically shipped in tanker trucks from refineries to local gas stations. There are pipelines that bring the gasoline to regional terminals. Then trucks take the gasoline from those terminals to local gas stations — thus limiting the miles that gasoline is transported via highway.
When extremists make it unnecessarily difficult to build this needed energy infrastructure, we can’t pretend the Jones Act is why we are overpaying to transport energy.
On the other hand, the Jones Act has a number of important benefits that its detractors would like to ignore.
The Jones Act simply requires that waterway shipping within the U.S. is done by American-built, -owned and -crewed ships. It doesn’t prevent foreign shippers from coming to our shores. But they can’t sail up our rivers and make multiple stops.
The Jones Act was intended to ensure that we have a viable shipbuilding and repairing capability to support our military. In a world where many foreign nations heavily subsidize their shipping industries, we must not allow ourselves to become dependent upon other nations to maintain our naval capability.
Former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Paul Selva said, “I am an ardent Supporter of the Jones Act. [The Act] supports a viable shipbuilding industry, cuts cost and produces 2,500 qualified mariners.”
Likewise, Former Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Paul Zunkunft said, “You take the Jones Act away, the first thing to go is these shipyards and then the mariners. ... If we don’t have a U.S. fleet or U.S. shipyard to constitute that fleet how do we prevail?”
The military understands that the Jones Act is critically important to our national security.
Our adversaries would like a weaker America, not a stronger one. And the Jones Act helps keep us strong. If we haven’t learned in the past few years that being dependent upon hostile powers is both risky and costly, we haven’t been paying attention.
The Jones Act also has a significant impact on homeland security.
Dr. Joan Mileski, head of the Maritime Administration Department at Texas A&M, said, “If we totally lifted the Jones Act, any foreign-flagged ship could go anywhere on our waterways, including up the Mississippi River.” This would make our defenses incredibly porous as we have more than 25,000 miles of navigable inland waterways.
Michael Herbert, Chief of the Customs & Border Protection’s Jones Act Division of Enforcement said: “We use the Jones Act as a virtual wall. Without the Jones Act in place, our inland waterways would be inundated with foreign-flagged vessels.”
Without the Jones Act, Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin could gain access to America’s heartland, sending ships to operate up and down the Mississippi River. They could spy and even unleash weapons from container ships.
The Jones Act protects America. Blaming the Jones Act for the fact that extremists have hamstrung our nation’s energy infrastructure and driven prices up is a profoundly stupid argument.
The world is a dangerous place, filled with adversaries that will be all too happy if the Jones Act is weakened.
George Landrith is the President and CEO of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty and constitutionally limited government. To learn more about Frontiers of Freedom, visit www.ff.org. Read George Landrith's Reports — More Here.
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