President Obama: Stop Playing Politics and Waive the Jones Act

Sixty-two days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, and the American people are still awaiting an explanation as to why President Obama has failed to waive the Jones Act. The 1920 law protects union workers by preventing foreign vessels from operating in U.S. waters.

According to Thad Allen, the Coast Guard Admiral in charge of the cleanup:

Nobody’s come to me with a request for a Jones Act waiver, but any skimming capability we can bring in, we’re looking for.

That statement directly contradicts the Dutch government’s claim that just three days after the BP accident, Dutch authorities offered to send in ships with oil-skimming booms but were told, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Senators George LeMieux (R-FL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have sent a letter to President Obama requesting he waive the Jones Act:

We are still receiving reports of foreign-flagged vessels being turned away or their offers of assistance hanging in limbo. That should not be the case.


Admiral Thad Allen is reporting that vessels do not need a waiver to participate in cleanup efforts, yet skimmers are apparently going unused. There is a breakdown of communication and it is critically important the situation get fixed and we see an armada of skimmers at work.

As we at the National Center say repeatedly on this web site, President Obama should stop playing politics with the American public. The essential job at hand is to do everything humanly possible to clean up the oil spill as fast as possible to protect habitat and wildlife, not in aiding special interests that provide support on election day—in this case, the powerful labor union lobby.

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