LETTERS for the March 10 issue | News, Sports, Jobs

Hawaii needs a Jones Act exemption

The world holds its breath as we watch the outbreak of war in Ukraine and wonder what this bodes for the future.

For those of us in Hawaii, there is an additional reason to worry, besides the geopolitical implications and the loss of life: it is very likely that the sanctions against Russia will lead to a dramatic increase in energy prices. . Indeed, for years Hawaii has obtained about a third of its crude oil from Russia.

Why would Hawaii import oil from Russia when we could get it from the American mainland? After all, the continental United States is closer, and both countries are major exporters of the low-sulphur crude oil that Hawaiian Electric uses to generate electricity.

As Jonathan Helton, research associate of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, explained in a recent article, it’s a simple matter of economics. It is much cheaper for Hawaii to buy Russian oil than American oil, even though the cost per barrel of Russian oil is higher than that of Texas.

How is it possible?

Blame the Jones Act. The Federal Maritime Act of 1920 requires that all goods shipped between U.S. ports be on U.S.-flagged vessels built and primarily owned and crewed by Americans. The result of more than a century of protectionism has made American ships more expensive to build and operate, with the extra costs inevitably passed on to consumers. In other words, the added cost of using American ships makes it more expensive for Hawaii to buy oil from Texas than from Russia.

According to a Grassroot Institute study, the Jones Act costs Hawaii about $1.2 billion a year, including 9,100 fewer jobs, $400 million in lost wages, and $150 million in lost tax revenue. Gasoline on the islands costs up to $55.2 million more per year due to the Jones Act, and the average family’s electric bill is higher by about 14 cents per day.

This is why Hawaii needs a Jones Act exemption. With the outbreak of war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, this may be the only way to ensure that we can continue to import oil at a reasonable cost.

In requesting an exemption, we are following the same path as the Hawaii Refinery Task Force. As early as 2014, the task force warned that a political crisis could lead to increased dependence on domestic oil, accompanied by increased freight costs. His solution? A waiver of the Jones Act that would allow Hawaii to import fuel from the mainland at lower prices.

Specifically, Task Force Recommendation #1 was: “Explore actions to allow Hawaii’s fuel supply to use foreign-flag vessels from domestic ports instead of Jones Act vessels to expand sources of supply in the state at competitive prices. more competitive.”

Again, that was in 2014, eight years ago. Yet despite this well-reasoned call for reform, Hawaii’s political leaders have generally done nothing to avert the situation in which we now find ourselves.

The sad reality is that when it comes to fuel imports, we have been between a rock and a hard place for years, and now we are feeling the pressure.

Maybe we should never have been so dependent on Russian oil imports to begin with. But it was a choice based on the high cost of American oil, thanks to the Jones Act.

The best way forward is to secure a permanent Jones Act exemption for our state that would allow Hawaii to purchase oil from US sources at a lower cost.

After that, we should update the Jones Act in general, to bring it into the 21st century and reduce its burden on all Americans.

KELI’I AKINA, President and CEO, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Squash Russian state media propaganda

RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik News should both be kaput! Contact the US Senate at (202) 224-3121 and the US House of Representatives at (202) 225-3121 and demand the immediate revocation of the broadcast licenses of Russian psychological warfare media outlets Russia Today and Sputnik News. It’s time to take out the trash.

It’s bad enough that America has to deal with the dumb, foreign-owned fake Fox News network that feeds fascist lies and pro-Putin propaganda to its ignorant, unpatriotic, unrepentantly racist audience.

So-called Fox “News” is a blight on the body politic, just as the GOP is itself.

With Russia’s murderous and illegal invasion of Ukraine in mind, why on earth should we self-respecting Americans continue to allow Kremlin-controlled crapfests known as Russia Today and Sputnik? News, to continue to deliberately spread dishonest misinformation in our national media environment? Send these liars back to Moscow, where their soulless selves belong.

Russia Today and Sputnik News are the media equivalents of Chernobyl — radioactive, toxic, carcinogenic and under Russian military occupation!

Make those phone calls to Congress. Don’t be afraid and don’t apologize by demanding that Russia Today and Sputnik News stop broadcasting as soon as possible.

Do it today and contact these Russian tools while you’re at it. Let them know what you think of their vocal support for Vladimir Putin via feedback@rttv.ru, feedback@sputniknews.com and FoxNationCustomerCare@fox.com.