HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A suggestion by US Representative Charles Djou to waive a 90-year-old law so foreign ships can help respond to the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is drawing fire from both US Senator Daniel Inouye and Representative Mazie Hirono. Djou, a Republican, on Tuesday said the Jones Act is blocking vessels from Mexico, Canada and Belgium from assisting the cleanup.
"I am disappointed… that the President has failed to waive the Jones Act for foreign ships, who want to assist in the clean-up efforts. There is no good reason to turn away international help in responding to this environmental catastrophe" said Djou.
The law requires vessels transporting goods between states to have been built in the United States, be crewed and owned by US citizens, and fly the US flag. Inouye in a statement Wednesday said he was taken aback by the waiver idea. The Hawaii Democrat says suspending the act is not necessary and that ships from the US military, state and local governments, private citizens and foreign vessels are all currently assisting in the Gulf.
"To suggest that we suspend the Jones Act to allow foreign ships into the Gulf is more about pushing a political agenda than any genuine interest in helping Gulf coast communities with their clean-up. We are already at the mercy of foreign competitors when it comes to oil, we should not add shipping to that list" said Inouye.
Hawaii's other US Representative also has disputed Djou's idea. Hirono said that there are already 15 foreign-flagged vessels supporting the effort to clean up the Gulf oil spill. She said that National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, informed her office that no Jones Act waivers have been issued because none of these ships require the waiver to assist with operations in the Gulf of Mexico.