Obama Blocked Clean Up of BP Oil Spill by Friendly Countries; International Assistance Blocked by Regulations Obama Had The Authority To Waive

by Hans Bader on June 14, 2010 · 16 comments

in Agriculture, Deregulate to Stimulate, Economy, Employment, Energy, Environment, Ethanol, Global Warming, Health and Illness, International, Labor, Legal, Natural Resources, Politics as Usual, Precaution & Risk, Regulation, Sanctimony, Stimulus to Nowhere, Trade, Zeitgeist

Crucial offers to help clean up BP’s oil spill “have come from Belgian, Dutch, and Norwegian firms that . . . possess some of the world’s most advanced oil skimming ships.” But the Obama administration wouldn’t accept the help, because doing so would require it to do something past presidents have routinely done: waive rules imposed by the Jones Act, a law backed by unions.

“The BP clean-up effort in the Gulf of Mexico is hampered by the Jones Act. This is a piece of 1920s protectionist legislation, that requires all vessels working in U.S. waters to be American-built, and American-crewed. So . . . the U.S. Coast Guard . . . can’t accept, and therefore don’t ask for, the assistance of high-tech European vessels specifically designed for the task in hand.”

The law itself permits the president to waive these requirements, and such waivers were “granted, promptly, by the Bush administration,” in the aftermath of hurricanes and other emergencies. But Obama has refused to do so, notes David Warren in the Ottawa Citizen. Instead, Obama rejected a Dutch offer to help clean up the spill, noted Voice of America News:

“The Obama administration declined the Dutch offer partly because of the Jones Act, which restricts foreign ships from certain activities in U.S. waters.  During the Hurricane Katrina crisis five years ago, the Bush administration waived the Jones Act in order to facilitate some foreign assistance, but such a waiver was not given in this case.”

“After the Obama administration refused help from the Netherlands, Geert Visser, the consul general for the Netherlands in Houston, told Loren Steffy: ‘Let’s forget about politics; let’s get it done.’” But for Obama, politics always comes first: “The explanation of Obama’s reluctance to seek this remedy is his cozy relationship with labor unions. . . ‘The unions see it [not waiving the act] as … protecting jobs. They hate when the Jones Act gets waived.’”

Ironically, even the staunchest supporters of the Jones Act are now distancing themselves from refusals to accept foreign help, saying they have “not and will not stand in the way of the use of these well-established waiver procedures to address this crisis.” Obama is being more intransigently pro-union than the unions themselves.

One can only hope Obama will change his mind now, given that “each day our European allies are prevented from helping us speed up the clean up is another day that Gulf fishing and tourism jobs die.”

(The Obama administration has belatedly accepted some foreign equipment for use in fighting the spill, although it still blocks ships with foreign crews. As Voice of America notes, although “the Netherlands offered help in April,” such as providing “sophisticated” oil “skimmers and dredging devices,” the Obama administration blocked their crews from working in U.S. waters, and as a result, this crucial “operation was delayed until U.S. crews could be trained” in June. “The Dutch also offered assistance with building sand berms (barriers) along the coast of Louisiana to protect sensitive marshlands, but that offer was also rejected, even though Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal had been requesting such protective barriers.”)

In April 2009, the Obama administration granted BP, a big supporter of Obama, a waiver of environmental regulations.  But after the oil spill, it blocked Louisiana from protecting its coastline against the oil spill by delaying rather than expediting regulatory approval of essential protective measures.  It has also chosen not to use what has been described as “the most effective method” of fighting the spill, a method successfully used in other oil spills.  Democratic strategist James Carville called Obama’s handling of the oil spill “lackadaisical” and “unbelievable” in its “stupidity.”

Obama is now using BP’s oil spill to push the global-warming legislation that BP had lobbied for.  Obama’s global warming legislation expands ethanol subsidies, which cause famine, starvation, and food riots in poor countries by shrinking the food supply.  Ethanol makes gasoline costlier and dirtier, increases ozone pollution, and increases the death toll from smog and air pollution.   Ethanol production also results in deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution. Subsidies for biofuels like ethanol are a big source of corporate welfare: “BP has lobbied for and profited from subsidies for biofuels . . . that cannot break even without government support.”

The $800 billion stimulus package is also using taxpayer subsidies to replace U.S. jobs with foreign green jobs. And its regulations destroy jobs in America’s export sector.

anonymous jones June 15, 2010 at 5:19 am

Thanks goodness for your articles. FInally, someone exposing the truth.

anonymous jones June 15, 2010 at 5:20 am

Thanks goodness for your articles. FInally, someone exposing the truth. Perhaps more Americans will wake up.

anonymous jones June 15, 2010 at 10:19 am

Thanks goodness for your articles. FInally, someone exposing the truth.

Reader June 15, 2010 at 1:31 pm

The refusal to accept foreign aid helps Obama manufacture a bigger crisis. And as Obama's Chief of Staff said, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. With a big enough crisis, they can push through Obama's welfare-laden global warming bill.

Dominique July 5, 2010 at 9:17 am

Our coast is being destroyed. Marine life is suffering and being killed due to suffocation. I don't care who owns the ships, we need help. Obama and our entire government is sitting on their hands, being extremely lazy and completely focused on the wrong issue. Obama, I am extremely disappointed in you and your administration. You are a failure! Get off your butts and do something useful. We could have prevented the damage from this oil spill from a few days after things started. But no, let's refuse any kind of help from advanced technology, which would of been able to save our coasts. We need a new president. I truly regret Obama being elected. One of our worst presidents so far. Hasn't done anything, gone back on his word for some very important issues, and is now refusing to accept any kind of help which would save the southern U.S.

Sal June 18, 2010 at 6:01 pm

This is amazing. Why aren't the major networks covering this? Aside from the Wall Street Journal and Voice of America, no one seems to be covering it.

Random Visitor June 21, 2010 at 3:58 am

Amazingly, the Obama Administration STILL refuses to waive the Jones Act — yet the press has left the public largely in the dark about this.

Me June 21, 2010 at 5:50 am

Even a few Democrats in Congress like Corinne Brown are now criticizing the failure to waive the Jones Act restrictions to use foreign vessels for skimming up oil from the Gulf.

Me June 21, 2010 at 5:55 am

I misspelled Corrine Brown as Corinne Brown in my comment above.

Joe July 11, 2010 at 7:31 am

For this alone he should be impeached, and then sent to prison for it.

azmi July 14, 2010 at 9:34 am

suggestion methods that used to clean-up oil spills in the water and lands.

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