In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the federal government recently waived the Jones Act for 12 days to allow oil tankers to deliver fuel to northeastern ports.

The Jones Act, which has been on the books since 1920, mandates that any goods shipped between two points in the United States via water must be transported on U.S.-built, U.S.-owned, and U.S.-operated vessels, even if more affordable options are available. However, the government has the authority to waive Jones Act shipping restrictions.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano took advantage of this option, announcing: “The Administration’s highest priority is ensuring the health and safety of those impacted by Hurricane Sandy and this waiver will remove a potential obstacle to bringing additional fuel to the storm damaged region.”

This raises an obvious question: If removing an obstacle to bringing fuel to the Northeast for 12 days is a good idea, wouldn’t it be an even better idea to remove that obstacle forever?