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King blames politics for White House oil spill response
The Obama administration’s poor response to the BP oil spill can be partially blamed on the fact that the president is a Democrat and the governor of Louisiana is a Republican, U.S. Rep. Steve King said during an interview on WHO-AM Wednesday morning.
But in making his accusation, King relied on a discredited talking point about maritime law that has become popular amongst critics of the president.
A caller to the program said President Barack Obama has purposefully delayed taking certain actions that could benefit the spill cleanup because Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is a Republican. King said he agreed with the caller’s analysis of the situation.
“I watch the reluctance on the part of the White House to cooperate with Bobby Jindal. I’d like to think it’s being done out of policy perspective, but there is a political component,” King said. “To delay these skimmers all this time, and to refuse to wave the Jones Act, well essentially they passed that hot potato around, and nobody asked for it.”
In recent weeks, numerous Republicans have pointed to the Jones Act as part of the problem with the oil spill cleanup, saying if Obama were serious he would have waived the maritime law that requires that all goods transported between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flagged, U.S.-built and U.S.-owned ships crewed by U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
But as the news agency McClatchy has pointed out, this argument is just not true.
Maritime law experts, government officials and independent researchers say that the claim is false. The Jones Act isn’t an impediment at all, they say, and it hasn’t blocked anything.
“Totally not true,” said Mark Ruge, counsel to the Maritime Cabotage Task Force, a coalition of U.S. shipbuilders, operators and labor unions. “It is simply an urban myth that the Jones Act is the problem.”
In a news briefing last week, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said he’d received “no requests for Jones Act waivers” from foreign vessels or countries. “If the vessels are operating outside state waters, which is three miles and beyond, they don’t require a waiver,” he said.
According to Factcheck.org, a nonprofit website operated by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, there are 15 foreign-flagged ships currently helping with the Gulf cleanup. McClatchy also reports that the U.S. State Department announced new offers of aid would be accepted from 12 foreign countries and international organizations.