If you are not shaking your head in disbelief after reading this, “you are a better man than I”. Apparently, President Obama has refused to allow experts in oil spill cleanup to enter United States waters and assist in the cleanup.
Here is what we know courtesy of my environmental engineer friend. De Standaard, a Dutch newspaper, wrote an article explaining that several European countries offered their help to Obama. They have ships designed for the express purpose of cleaning up oil spills…the U.S. has none. They claim that they can finish the job in three to four months…the administration is projecting nine months.
Obama told them, no.
Why, you ask? The problem, is U.S. law, specifically, the Jones Act. It requires that all ships transporting goods between U.S. ports must be constructed in the United States, owned by United States citizens, and crewed by United States citizens. Presidents have the power to suspend the Jones Act, and, in times of emergency, have done so in the past. But, so as not to antagonize the unions in general, and the longshoremen in particular, Obama has refused to suspend the Jones Act. And, thus, the countries with the most knowledge and the best equipment to deal with this disaster have been prohibited from bringing their “foreign” ships, and “foreign” crews to help the Gulf Coast cleanup on the oft chance that the unions would claim a violation of the Jones Act.
As my engineer friend said in his e-mail,
President Bush suspended the Jones Act in the aftermath of Katrina in order to speed assistance to the storm’s victims. President Obama has been requested to do the same, but so far he would rather watch the damage accumulate and just blame Big Business, Big Oil, capitalism, or George Bush.
This is tragic. No, it is more than tragic.