Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Protecting Access to American Products Act Thursday, a bill that makes it easier for Americans to receive flexibility from Jones Act regulations that prevent Americans from buying American.
“American consumers should not be forced to buy more expensive products from despotic regimes just because of outdated and misguided government regulations,” Sen. Lee said. “All Americans should be free to trade with other Americans and the Protecting Access to American Products Act will help ensure that happens.”
Passed in 1920, the Jones Act requires all goods transported by water between U.S. ports to be carried on vessels constructed, registered, and owned by U.S. citizens. Unfortunately, there are some products where there are simply no Jones Act-compliant ships in existence that can carry those products.
For example, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico both import liquified natural gas (LNG). It would be cheaper for both Massachusetts and Puerto Rico to import LNG from the United States which has become a net-exporter of LNG. But since there are no Jones Act-compliant LNG carriers, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico have had to import LNG from Russia!
In other examples, the Jones Act has forced Puerto Rico to import jet fuel from Venezuela and Hawaii cattlemen have been forced to fly their cattle by plane to California instead of shipping it.
The Protecting Access to American Products Act would fix this problem by creating an expedited process for Americans to obtain a waiver from the Jones Act. If an applicant claims they failed to find a Jones Act-compliant vessel for a specific product, the federal government must approve or deny that waiver within 60 days.