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BY THOMAS A. SCHATZ – President Obama is refusing to allow the use of state-of-the-art equipment that could dramatically help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and save the fragile Gulf Coast marshlands and beaches. I need your help today to force him to act.  Let me explain.

Within days of the explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch, who have worked in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina, offered the services of their high-tech oil skimming ships.  The Dutch government has particular expertise in cleaning up oil spills, and they require oil rigs off their coast to respond to any leakage within 12 hours.

In addition, the Dutch, who are the most experienced people on earth in building dikes, offered President Obama assistance in building sand barriers to protect the pristine Gulf coastline, sensitive marshlands, and wildlife.

However, in response to both offers, President Obama said NO!

Why would he say no?  Because it would require him to waive the Jones Act.

The Jones Act is a 1920s-era law that protects the U.S. domestic merchant marine industry — and its unions — from competition by mandating that all cargo and passengers shipped between U.S. seaports be carried on U.S.-flag vessels using U.S. crews.  Even without the spill, this protectionist measure costs our economy an estimated $3.1 billion per year.

If President Obama would waive the Jones Act, as President Bush did in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, millions of gallons of oil and sludge could be swept from the sea and miles of beaches and marshlands and their birds and fish could be protected, ultimately helping preserve commerce and American jobs along the Gulf Coast.

Yet, back in April when the spill occurred and again on June 15 when President Obama delivered his Oval Office address to the nation on the oil spill, he bowed to the wishes of his union supporters and refused to even consider issuing an Executive Order to suspend the Jones Act.  Instead, the President exploited the disaster to once again push for his job-killing cap-and-trade energy tax that would devastate the economy and do NOTHING to solve the immediate crisis in the Gulf.

In short, President Obama and Big Labor’s union bosses care more about protecting a few union maritime jobs than the environment or the millions of Americans who are losing their economic livelihoods due to this environmental disaster.

So the Gulf, its residents, environment, and wildlife continue to suffer while President Obama cozies up in Washington with his union boss buddies!

CAGW is launching a national effort to shame the President into waiving the Jones Act to dramatically accelerate the Gulf clean-up efforts.

I believe if hundreds of newspapers and radio and television stations start running stories about how President Obama is more concerned with protecting labor unions than he is with preserving the environment and livelihoods of those living along the Gulf, the pressure to waive the Jones Act will become overwhelming.

For example, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen has stated that more than 2,000 skimmers, including foreign-flag vessels, are  currently operating off the coasts of the United States and could be used in the Gulf, yet Florida officials have reported that just 32 skimmers are deployed off their coastline.

We also want to publicize how President Obama is not doing all he can to help the residents of the Gulf Coast and is putting the interests of his union supporters first.

Last week, millions of more gallons of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico after an undersea robot bumped a venting system and forced BP to remove a cap that had been containing some of the crude.  Still, President Obama never once mentioned waiving the Jones Act!

For more information on how to get involved, log onto http://www.cagw.org/

Thomas A. Schatz is the President of Citizens Against Government Waste

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