Oil-skimming ships from anywhere in the world should be allowed to help in the gulf cleanup effort without any red-tape delays, according to House Republican Conference Secretary John Carter (TX-31), who today introduced legislation providing a waiver of Section 12112 of the Jones Act for all vessels responding to the BP oil spill. The bill currently has 14 bi-partisan cosponsors.
"When the barn's burning, you don't care where the fire truck's from," says Carter. "Based on the severity of this spill we need every possible ship available, without any delays waiting for the Jones Act to be waived."
Carter's bill is identical to legislation introduced in the Senate by Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), allowing potential fast-track passage into law without need of a conference committee.
The Jones Act of 1920 requires all ships providing service between U.S. ports be American owned, flagged, and crewed. Foreign ships can receive waivers to participate in oil spill cleanup operations, but only after application and review by the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, and the Maritime Administration, in what can be a lengthy process.
The Obama Administration has committed to providing Jones Act waivers for foreign ships, but the Carter-Hutchison bill would eliminate the need for the bureaucratic process, allowing cleanup vessels to move immediately into operation.
Current law would allow the President to provide a similar emergency waiver through Executive Order.