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Gulf Oil Spill Update: What's All This Business About the Jones Act?

5 years ago
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Fox News' Brian Wilson made some waves yesterday with a post arguing that a 90-year-old law may be impeding the cleanup efforts in the Gulf oil spill.

The Jones Act, enacted in 1920, places restrictions on certain shipborne activities in U.S. waters to boats built in the U.S. and operated by American workers. Foreign Policy magazine noted last month that a number of nations had offered to help contain the spill by sending over skimmer ships, but US officials turned the offers down, saying thanks, but they could handle the spill on their own. It was unclear what was going on at the time, but politicians and commentators on both sides of the partisan divide are now wondering whether the Jones Act is behind the refusal.

During Katrina, Bush waived the act, writes Wilson, yet Obama has yet to do so for the Gulf crisis -- which some speculate has to do with Obama's support for labor unions, which benefit from the Jones Act in non-crisis times. The administration and the Coast Guard have responded by saying they've accepted help from a number of nations in terms of equipment, including 3,000 meters of containment boom from Canada, and two oil skimmers from Mexico. But those are all operated from U.S. ships, by American workers. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told Fox, "If there is the need for any type of waiver, that would obviously be granted. But, we've not had that problem thus far."
Filed Under: Surge Desk

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Robert Gibbs doesn't have a clue about the maritime industry and the capabilities or lack thereof in the US flag fleet. There are qualified and well established and respected international companies that can help in this effort. Jan de Nul and Boskalis of The Netherlands with dredges and recovery vessels, Teekay of Canada and Knutsen of Norway with shuttle tankers. There is only one US flag shuttle tanker in the US fleet and it is new with a green crew. Do you want that attempting to hook up with the recovery rig or processing ship at sea? This delay has been brought on by the unions such as the SIU, AMO and MEBA. The men that man these foreign vessels mentioned are every bit as qualified if not more to assist and the ships are every bit as safe as any of the US flag vessels out there. This is an issue that cannot wait and in the end the ploiticians, Coast Guard and union cronies will have this come back to bite them in the butt when it's over. The value of a high dollar graze by lobbyists can only go so far. As for oil booms being deployed by US mariners? That's a no brainer, load the boat and deploy it. Shuttle tanker ops, sophisticated skimming vessel operation and super drgedges building the long awaited offshore berms is a horse of another color. Note to the naysayers: If you can't help it's perhaps best you stay on the beach.

June 11 2010 at 8:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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