Jones Act makes coastal highway congestion worse
by Michael Hansen Hawaii Shippers Council, August 9, 2017
Quartz Media LLC. posted on July 20, 2017, to YouTube the video, “The Jones Act: The 100-year-old law that makes traffic worse,” describing how the Jones Act has stifled coastal shipping and shifted the movement of freight (or, general cargoes) to the nation’s roadways significantly increasing congestion.
The video was produced by Erick Olsen Quartz’s West Coast Video Correspondent and featured audio from two men, one supportive of Jones Act reform and the other representing the U.S. maritime industry and staunchly in support of the existing Jones Act protections.
In support of Jones Act reform is G. Rockford “Rocky” Weitz, Ph.D., Professor of Practice, Entrepreneur Coach & Director of the Maritime Studies Program at Tufts University's Fletcher School.
Defending the Jones Act is Thomas A. Allegrette, the long time President and CEO of The American Maritime Operators (AMO), an industry trade association representing the owners and operators of inland towboats and barges on America’s rivers and canals. That is the largest segment of Jones Act vessels representing approximately 85% of the fleet by number of vessels. Since 2013, Allegrette has also been the Chairman of the American Maritime Partnership (AMP) the primary Jones Act trade association and lobbying entity.
In addition, Erick Olsen was the author of a related article, “An arcane American law protected by powerful interests is causing insane traffic jams,” posted to the Quartz website on August 7, 2017.
Olsen’s video and the article follow from a 2008 study, “America's Deep Blue Highway: How Coastal Shipping Could Reduce Traffic Congestion, Lower Pollution, and Bolster National Security,” prepared by the Maritime Studies Program, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts. The co-author of that study was Rockford Weitz.
That study was accomplished at a time when the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) was attempting to promote what has been variously known as Short Sea Shipping (SSS), coastal shipping, and America’s Blue Highway, as a means of reducing intercity truck traffic on the nation’s highways particularly those along the seaboards.
The study called for elimination of the U.S. domestic ship build requirement of the Jones Act to lower the capital cost of the kinds of vessels that could accomplish this type of coastal shipping service, which was and remains the obvious way to facilitate the development of coastal shipping. However, no one in the federal government would broach this issue with the notable exception of U.S. Senator John S. McCain (R-AZ).