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  • Former White House Adviser Presses Obama for 75-Day Jones Act Waiver

    The Bush administration’s point man for the Jones Act waivers during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita says President Obama should exert his executive authority and suspend the law for 75 days to help with the Gulf oil spill cleanup.

    Keith Hennessey, who served as the deputy at the White House National Economic Council in 2005, sheds new light on the Bush administration’s thinking behind the Jones Act waivers. The law regulates cargo shipping in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports. Some members of Congress have cited the 1920 protectionist law as a hindrance for foreign skimming vessels to aid in the cleanup.

    Hennessey noted the 2005 waivers eased the transportation of fuel in the aftermath of the hurricanes. He also makes the case that a short-term blanket waiver would do little harm to the economic interests in the Gulf region. While acknowledging it would be resisted by the U.S. shipping industry and maritime unions, he said Obama should stand up to the special interests.

    “A blanket waiver combined with a strong encouraging signal from government officials could, I think, spur significant private help, including from friends around the world,” Hennessey writes on his blog. “We’ll never know unless the President tries.”

    Hennessey outlines three recommendations:

    • A 75-day waiver through the end of August when the main relief well is supposed to be finished.

    • An announcement by Obama that he is ordering Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to issue the waiver.

    • Pleas from press secretary Robert Gibbs and the State Department for foreign vessels to come to the Gulf to help with the cleanup.

    What are the chances Obama will follow the advice? Based on his refusal to act so far, it’s unlikely. However, with congressional Democrats now joining the chorus of critics, the Jones Act has become a public-relations headache for the administration.

    Posted in Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Former White House Adviser Presses Obama for 75-Day Jones Act Waiver

    1. ashmorrow says:

      Katrina Hurricane was natural, the disaster was a terrorist attack. Just check out the book Katrina Nights. Or go to http://hurricanekatrinakaif.com

    2. Steve Beste, Fort La says:

      How long after Katrina hit the Gulf did the Bush Administration suspend the Jones Act? Were any of the ships used to clean-up any oil spills caused by the Hurricane? Why wern't US flagged ships sufficient for the task?


    3. Keith, the Bayou says:

      Is Hennessey the guy who did that? All I remember is that they announced it without bothering to ask if any U.S. tankers were available. It turned out that there were. First they lost work because of Katrina. Then they lost work because foreign boats were brought in.

      Funny how that work huh?

    4. Hunter Cantor, Texas says:

      Why do we keep seeing people discuss a need to waive the Jones Act of 1917, when it was re-enacted in 2006 with a version signed by G.W. Bush on Oct 6 2006 that specifically (“Notwithstanding any other provision of law") allow foreign vessels to come help with oil-spills, by simply the Federal On-Scene-Coordinator (Thad Allen?) letting them in?? It would seem to me that only a need to avoid annoying unions is why Adm. Allen have been told not to let other countries in. Bush had to waive the old statutes for Katrina, but the Jones Act was permanently fixed afterward from what I can see.

      From the 2006 version:

      Jones Act 46USC 101 et. Seq.

      “55113. Use of foreign documented oil spill response vessels.

      “§ 55113. Use of foreign documented oil spill response vessels “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an oil spill response vessel documented under the laws of a foreign country may operate in waters of the United States on an emergency and temporary basis, for the purpose of recovering, transporting,

      and unloading in a United States port oil discharged as a result of an oil spill in or near those waters, if–

      “(1) an adequate number and type of oil spill response vessels documented under the laws of the United States cannot be engaged to recover oil from an oil spill in or near those waters in a timely manner, as determined by the Federal On-Scene Coordinator for a discharge or threat of a discharge of oil; and

      “(2) the foreign country has by its laws accorded to vessels of the United States the same privileges accorded to vessels of the foreign country under this section.

    5. Billie says:

      Well, what? Does he think he's impressing personal nobility? Think of the consequences and all that will be effected including the initial effect, all in due of this president's will to create as much hardship as possible to the American people.

      Mr. President, you insisted to blame republicans for obstructing a bill containing extended unemployment. benefits?! No, Mr. President. The republicans aren't the obstructer s, they know the will of the people. It is YOU standing in the way of JOB GROWTH.

      We don't want unemployment benefits, Mr. Obama, WE WANT PERMANENT JOBS to provide for our families without dependency on your handouts! We want pay according to personal worth. Not government mandates of our worth. Republicans know what we want, Mr. President. You make sure we don't get it.

    6. Pingback: Maritime Monday 219 - Casco Bay Boaters Blog

    7. Greg Urban, Vallejo, says:

      For those of you who unaware, the Jones Act has been in danger of appeal many times before. Who would most like to see this law done away with? All the owners and heads of the marine industry. Why is this? Because they would then be able to finally hire foreign nationals to crew and run their vessels at extremely reduced manning costs. Also, vessels worked domestically in the US would be able to be built on foreign shores at reduced costs. It is doubtful, in this day of corporate gluttony and greed, that these savings would be passed on to the consumer. The number of US jobs, on the water and shore side, lost would be tremendous. The Jones Act has protected our maritime industry since the 1920's. It also protects, directly and indirectly, millions of non-maritime jobs.

      Also of note, while there are many UNION maritime positions that are protected by this law there are at least as many NON-union jobs protected by the law. The law protects the industry and those industries with direct involvement in the shipping and receiving of goods- not just the unions, as it is being reported.

      The oil spill in the Gulf is now, so it appears to me, being exploited as yet another possible back door to circumvent this law.

      As US citizens, we need to think long and hard about all of the implications of doing away with the Jones Act. First, the loss of American jobs as already stated, not to mention the loss of a long standing American maritime industry and tradition. I know that we tend to have very short memories as Americans, but we also need to remember the USS Cole and the events of 9/11.

      By appealing or amending the Jones Act we are opening the doors to foreign nationals to operate our domestic vessels. These vessels are as various as a person can imagine, from ferries operating in New York harbor to tug boats towing barges with millions of gallons of petroleum products in pristine waters of Alaskan or in and out of the San Francisco Bay, passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. Each of these thousands of vessels could, in the hands of the wrong people, be used as a terrorist weapon, visiting anything from environmental disaster to our nation's waterways, to bridges being taken out along the inter-coastal waterways and bays of our country or to countless people being killed in planned attacks. The USS Cole was taken out by a single small barge. A few terrorists with minimal training were able to take over several planes and take down the World Trade Center and attack the Pentagon. Use your imagination. It does not take much of one to see how giving up our country's control of our entire marine industry and all of the associated thousands and thousands of miles of shores and waterways would be terrorist's dream come true.

      Yes, what is happening in the Gulf is a disaster and a better way of dealing with it must come into play. I applaud Obama's decision not to waive the Jones Act and I urge caution and a better understanding to those who just want to throw away a law that they may not fully understand. This law, albeit an 'old' law, was written for a reason. It continues to serve and protect this country well, not just the unions as indicated. I can think of a few other old laws, the freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, the right to vote… just to name a few. Some 'old' laws are good laws. We would not think of opening the doors at GM and letting foreign nationals take away the factory jobs, would we?

      I am a tug boat captain that works towing petroleum barges on the west coast of the US and Hawaii. I have worked in the maritime industry for thirty years and work for a non-union company. Please educate yourselves and help us hold and protect our country's values, traditions and jobs together, along with those 'old' laws that make this great nation of ours possible.

    8. Frank, on a ship says:

      All this talk about a waiver for the Jones Act is politics. One side wants to do away with it. It has NOT prevented or hindered any skimmer or any other cleanup vessel from helping out.

    9. Pingback: Jones Act Resurfaces at Oil Spill Hearing | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

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