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."