Want Americans to buy U.S. products? Dump the Jones Act.

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Jones Act supporters often argue that the law, which mandates the use of U.S.-flagged, U.S.-built vessels that are at least 75 percent U.S. owned and crewed for purposes of domestic transport, epitomizes President Trump’s philosophy of “America First.” But as a new Wall Street Journal editorial points out, the truth is perhaps closer to the opposite:

[The Jones Act is] a particular problem for liquid natural gas, since there are zero LNG tankers that meet Jones Act rules. That means Puerto Rico effectively is barred from importing gas from LNG terminals in Georgia or Louisiana. As a result, it apparently turned to Siberia. The same happened two winters ago in New England, where gas is short due to a lack of pipeline capacity. A tanker of Russian gas was unloaded in Boston. How is this an “America First” policy?

The problem goes well beyond LNG. There are no Jones Act-compliant liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carriers either, so Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Puerto Rico must meet their propane needs by importing it from as far away as West Africa. This is happening even though the United States is the world’s top LPG exporter. The United States is also one of the world’s leading exporters of asphalt, but the absence of Jones Act asphalt carriers means that Hawaii must import it from abroad.

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