Jones Act industry committed to Gulf cleanup
The Maritime Cabotage Task Force said Wednesday its members remain committed to the oil cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico.
While the Deepwater Horizon well has been capped, it's estimated that 1 million barrels of oil from the spill may remain in the Gulf waters.
'The need for considerable cleanup effort remains,' said Mark Ruge, counsel to the Washington-based task force. 'The U.S. maritime industry is committed to completing the task of cleaning the oil and ensuring we preserve the environment and natural resources that are critical to the economy of the Gulf region.'
U.S.-flag and crewed vessels involved in the cleanup include scores of the world's largest and best-equipped oil spill response vessels, dozens of technologically advanced offshore supply vessels as well as thousands of fishing boats and other vessels of opportunity.
Claims that the Jones Act hindered the ability of foreign oil skimmers to share in the clean-up effort are 'false,' the task force said. The task force noted the Jones Act does not apply to nor constrain skimming outside of three miles from shore. The vast majority of skimming has occurred near the well, which is 50 miles from the U.S. coastline.
Within the three-mile limit, the federal government has exercised its authority under a separate existing law and implemented an expedited waiver process to allow capable foreign skimmers to clean up oil, the task force said.
'Broadly waiving the Jones Act for the oil spill is an unnecessary distraction that would do nothing to advance the cleanup effort or improve the region's economy,' said Eric Smith, vice president and chief commercial officer at OSG, and a Maritime Cabotage Task Force board member. 'Foreign oil skimmers are needed and already being utilized under a separate law and waiver process. A broad waiver for foreign vessels would only take work away from those most impacted by the disaster, American workers in the Gulf.'