The critics have it wrong. “There has been ‘no case’ where the federal government has refused use of foreign vessels in the Gulf oil spill clean-up because of the Jones Act, the nation’s preeminent cabotage law.
That was the conclusion reached by the Maritime Cabotage Task Force (MCTF), a collection of organizations dedicated to preserving a strongU.S.maritime industry, in a press release issued earlier this week.
Citing information provided by the National Incident Command (NIC), the MCTF stressed, “In no case has the Federal On Scene Coordinator (FOSC) or Unified Area Command declined to request assistance or accept offers of assistance of foreign vessels that meet an operational need because the Jones Act was implicated,”
The MCTF stressed that the NIC has consistently noted that foreign vessels from many nations are already working in the Gulf.
Moreover, the MCTF points out, ”The Jones Act only applies within three miles of shore. Therefore, foreign skimmers, along with American skimmers, are already at work beyond three miles. The Deepwater Horizon spill is occurring 50 miles from shore, and the vast majority of oil is beyond three miles.”
It is t rue that no waivers of the Jones Act have yet to be issued, but that is because “none of the foreign vessels currently operating as part of the … response has required such a waiver,” the NIC said on June 17.
The MCTF believes that American policymakers and the American public should not lose sight of the following fact: “The American shipping industry cares deeply about the Gulf and has launched an all-hands-on-deck effort to help with the Gulf clean-up and more American vessels are standing by, eager to help. The Jones Act is no impediment to the clean-up for all the reasons outlined by the NIC and has not been an impediment to the use of foreign skimmers and other foreign vessels in the Gulf.”