The Jones Act strikes back

From Instapundit:

DAVID WARREN: “We learned a simple thing this week: that 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 while, for instance, the U.S. Coast Guard can accept such help as three kilometres of containment boom from Canada, they can’t accept, and therefore don’t ask for, the assistance of high-tech European vessels specifically designed for the task in hand. This is amusing, in a way: a memorable illustration of … the sort of stuff I keep going on about. Which is to say, the law of unintended consequences, which pertains with especial virulence to all acts of government regulation.”

UPDATE: History of the 1920 Jones Act here. It hasn’t improved with age.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “The Jones Act strikes back

  1. Pete

    I believe that Bush waived the Jones act after Katrina. Why not waive it now? Unions?

  2. Mr. Independent

    For years, at least through Nixon’s presidency, and for a number of years after, emergency response was housed in a then highly competent White House office, called the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP), the forerunner of FEMA.

    OEP was tasked with preparing for the aftermath of a war with Russia, as well as to take the lead in natural disasters. In a true national crisis, like the oil spill, the President could and would give OEP temporarily authority to circumvent all all manner of red tape, including laws like the Jones Act. Normal shared jurisdiction among many agencies for an event would be temporarily replaced by sole OEP authority and responsibility.

    Run by George Schultz in Nixon’s time, OEP was a poster child for government competence. Its staff knew who in government, business and education to call, and how to marshal and coordinate them in case of a crisis.

    If still in existence, OEP might not have prevented the spill, but it certainly would have been on top of the clean-up. Right now, we have a principal spokesman in Admiral Allen, but it does not seem that he is really in charge to run the cleanup.

    We need an OEP like group that is given given both the responsibility and full authority to get the job done, staffed by people competent to do that. Right now, this simply seems to be lacking.

  3. The Jones act is supposed to regulate the commercial transport of cargoes between US ports. I can’t imagine what reading of it would require us to turn down an offer of help from specialized oil spill clean up vessels owned by other governments. But I am not a lawyer or government bureaucrat, so what do I know.