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Call for Jones Act reform gaining momentum

Photo by Charles Myers

The drumbeat for Jones Act reform has been growing louder.

In Hawaii, the Maui County Council in April unanimously endorsed a Jones Act exemption for Hawaii oil imports, and Michael Hansen of the Hawaii Shippers Council spoke on May 23 with reporter Catherine Cruz on Hawaii Public Radio’s “The Conversation,” reiterating the group’s longstanding call for repeal of the Jones Act’s U.S.-build requirement.

Elsewhere in the U.S.:

>> The National Council on Disability released a report May 25 on the negative impact of federal policies on Americans with disabilities residing in Puerto Rico. Among its recommendations: “Congress should re-evaluate the provisions of the Jones Act, specifically those provisions that restrict coastwise trade on U.S. flagged vessels regarding durable medical equipment covered under Medicare Part B.”

>> As reported by TradeWinds on May 24, BRS, one of the world’s leading shipbrokers, said in its weekly note that “a Jones Act waiver for product tankers could be a way the U.S. government looks to curb rising gasoline costs — while being good for domestic owners.”

>> A nationwide poll of 1,020 likely voters conducted May 20-23 by Echelon Insights asked if repealing the Jones Act would reduce inflation and the cost of living, to which 34% answered it would have a “somewhat” or “very” positive impact. Only 17% said it would have a “somewhat” or “very” negative impact on inflation and the cost of living.

>> Alden Abbott, a former general counsel of the Federal Trade Commission, and adjunct law professor Andrew Mercado wrote in The Hill on May 22 that, “At the very least, waiving Jones Act requirements for oil and gas products will bring more competition to shipping markets, lowering prices for consumers.”

>> In a May 20 article on its website that has relevance for Hawaii, The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers said, “Right now, West Coast refineries find it vastly more affordable to import lighter crude oil from Asia than to have the same quality U.S. crude shipped in. Jones Act exemptions and other reforms could help.”

>> Suraj Patel, a candidate for U.S. Congress in New York, wrote in the May 16 Gotham Gazette that, “The Jones Act has strangled Puerto Rico, especially during natural disasters, and makes it cheaper for Hawaii to import oil and gas from Russia than from domestic sources.”

>> Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton and director of the National Economic Council under President Barack Obama, told Bloomberg’s “Wall Street Week” (starting around 39:00) on May 13 that if “politicians outside the Fed want to make a difference on inflation, to the limited extent they can, they should [among other things] be reducing tariffs … [and] … reducing regulatory burdens, like the Jones Act that mandates that only U.S. ships can take crude oil from Texas to the northeast.”

And the beat goes on.

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