The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, better known today as the “Jones Act,” requires that all goods transported between US ports be carried by US-built ships, owned by US owners, with a US crew. Written in the wake of World War I, in the interest of national security, the Act has since resulted in the use of old and inefficient ships, higher costs to operate ships, and the movement of shipbuilding overseas, to name just a few inefficiencies. The Heritage Foundation estimates that the Jones Act adds up to $.15 to the price of each gallon of gas.
In February 2014, the Act prevented New Jersey from timely replenishing their depleted stock of road salt with a stockpile located in Maine. New Jersey officials were faced with the possibility of shutting down roads and applied for a waiver from the law. They were told that one would be granted only if it could be confirmed that no US ship was available, and if it was in the interests of national security. “Many cities and people are suffering because of a law that’s frankly outdated,” one New Jersey mayor said at the time.