40 min

How an obscure, 100-year old law is disrupting U.S. energy Catalyst with Shayle Kann

    • Technology

A little-known U.S. law called the Jones Act shapes climate tech in weird ways — like hindering offshore wind deployment and pushing up energy prices.
The law, part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, requires all cargo shipped between U.S. ports to be carried by ships that meet strict standards. Those ships must be built in American shipyards, owned by an American company, registered in the U.S., and crewed by a majority American crew. As a result, building cargo ships in the U.S., and operating them between U.S. ports, is way more expensive than building and operating ships in other countries — and relatively few U.S. ships get built.
So what are the impacts on climate tech?
In this episode, Shayle talks to Colin Grabow, research fellow at the Cato Institute's Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies. They cover topics like:

How the Jones Act increases the money and time required to deploy offshore wind turbines

Why it costs less to ship U.S. oil and gas abroad than to domestic markets

How it pushes domestic shipping to rely on trucks and trains instead of ships

The history of the act and potential ways it could change


Recommended Resources:


WIRED: The US Has Big Plans for Wind Energy—but an Obscure 1920s Law Is Getting in the Way


Cato Institute: Jones Act Leaves New England Vulnerable to Wintertime Calamity


Cato Institute: Environmental Costs of the Jones Act


Are growing concerns over AI’s power demand justified? Join us for our upcoming Transition-AI event featuring three experts with a range of views on how to address the energy needs of hyperscale computing, driven by artificial intelligence. Don’t miss this live, virtual event on May 8.

A little-known U.S. law called the Jones Act shapes climate tech in weird ways — like hindering offshore wind deployment and pushing up energy prices.
The law, part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, requires all cargo shipped between U.S. ports to be carried by ships that meet strict standards. Those ships must be built in American shipyards, owned by an American company, registered in the U.S., and crewed by a majority American crew. As a result, building cargo ships in the U.S., and operating them between U.S. ports, is way more expensive than building and operating ships in other countries — and relatively few U.S. ships get built.
So what are the impacts on climate tech?
In this episode, Shayle talks to Colin Grabow, research fellow at the Cato Institute's Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies. They cover topics like:

How the Jones Act increases the money and time required to deploy offshore wind turbines

Why it costs less to ship U.S. oil and gas abroad than to domestic markets

How it pushes domestic shipping to rely on trucks and trains instead of ships

The history of the act and potential ways it could change


Recommended Resources:


WIRED: The US Has Big Plans for Wind Energy—but an Obscure 1920s Law Is Getting in the Way


Cato Institute: Jones Act Leaves New England Vulnerable to Wintertime Calamity


Cato Institute: Environmental Costs of the Jones Act


Are growing concerns over AI’s power demand justified? Join us for our upcoming Transition-AI event featuring three experts with a range of views on how to address the energy needs of hyperscale computing, driven by artificial intelligence. Don’t miss this live, virtual event on May 8.

40 min

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