I've been reading in the news about the salt shortage in New Jersey - more accurately, I've been reading in the news about how The Jones Act is to blame for the lack of salt in New Jersey.
The Jones Act is a Cabotage Law and actually something I get asked quite a bit about so here it is in a nutshell:
A Jones Act vessel must carry goods between US Ports.
Boom done. There are of course quite a few fine lines. There is a difference between being a US Flag Vessel and being a Jones Act Vessel. To be a Jones Act Vessel your keel must have been laid in the US. My last ship was US Flagged however; it was built in China and was therefore ineligible to deliver goods between two US Ports. That is not to say that a Foreign Flagged Vessel can't visit two US ports back to back; it just means that said vessel can't pick up a specific component in port A and drop it off in port B. But say they picked something up in Japan and dropped it off in Port A they could then travel to Port B and drop off more goods from Japan - or they could load goods to deliver to Japan. You get the idea.
When I was at Maine Maritime I took tug and barge - we would move the barge around, dock it, make the tug up to it - it was a great class. What is the one thing I took away from that class and say to myself all the time?
The Seven P's. Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Take that International Salt, Newark Depot!
You want to blame the fact you're running out of salt on The Jones Act? That's cool. I mean, it must be a little embarrassing to admit that no one realized you were running out in time to arrange proper transport.
The New York Times posted this article online calling The Jones Act a decades old maritime law. They're right. It's a decades old maritime law. When you go to Japan do you see people driving Chevy's? Nope. Do you think Japanese goods are carried on Japanese vessels? Yep. My point? It's important to keep some things 'in house'. A nation's economy is a fickle and fragile thing. By protecting coastwise trade - it infuses our own economy with profits and provides our own citizens with a wage. Considering America is full of money grubbing consumer whores don't you think it's better if we as a nation benefit from that?!
Now, if you'd like to read a more detailed article about Salt and Cabotage Old Salt Blog has a great one. Ahem, a more detailed and accurate depiction of the situation.