Fox & Friends repeatedly falsely suggested that no international aid has been used in response to the Gulf oil spill because President Obama has not waived the Jones Act, even after White House press secretary Robert Gibbs informed them that this was not the case. Indeed, there are currently 15 foreign-flagged vessels in the Gulf responding to the spill -- each of which reportedly did not require Jones Act waivers -- and Fox News itself has previously reported that foreign technology is being used as part of the response.
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Citing Jones Act, Fox & Friends falsely suggests foreign aid not being used in Gulf
Beck: Obama "needs to explain ... why we turned down all the international help." On the June 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Glenn Beck said that Obama "needs to explain why we haven't -- why we turned down all the international help. They offered it within a couple of days. We said no." Beck further stated that Obama needs to address "why we then went back and said well, we'll give you an answer in a couple of days, and it took two weeks. I think the president needs to explain why he hasn't suspended the Jones amendment, which is letting international ships go in and help."
Carlson suggests that because Jones Act "has not been waived," foreign ships have not been allowed into Gulf to help. In a later segment on the June 15 Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson hosted Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL) and stated: "Steve Doocy asked [White House press secretary Robert Gibbs] why the Jones Act has not been waived, allowing international ships to come into the Gulf." LeMieux later responded, in part, "The Jones Act shouldn't be preventing any foreign ships from coming to help in the skimming operations."
Ingraham suggests Jones Act has prevented international help from reaching Gulf. Later on Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham stated that one of the "things the president needs to talk about and needs to do" is to "waive the Jones Act" so that "all of our technology, all of our manpower, all the skimmers internationally" could reach the Gulf. Ingraham did not note that there are already international ships in the Gulf responding to the spill.
In fact, "15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved" in response to spill; vessels did not require Jones Act waivers
Gibbs tells Fox & Friends that foreign aid is being used in Gulf. In an interview on the June 15 edition of Fox & Friends, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs stated that "[w]e have talked to several countries" and that "foreign entities are operating within the Gulf that help us respond" to the oil spill. Despite this, both Carlson and Ingraham continued to falsely suggest that foreign aide was being denied.
JIC: Fifteen foreign-flagged vessels currently involved in response to Gulf oil spill; vessels did not require Jones Act waivers. In a June 15 press release, the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center (JIC) stated that "[c]urrently, 15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved in the largest response to an oil spill in U.S. history." The JIC further explained, "No Jones Act waivers have been granted because none of these vessels have required such a waiver to conduct their operations in the Gulf of Mexico." The press release further stated:
To date, the administration has leveraged assets and skills from numerous foreign countries and international organizations as part of this historic, all-hands-on-deck response, including Canada, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, the United Nations' International Maritime Organization and the European Union's Monitoring and Information Centre. In some cases, offers of international assistance have been turned down because the offer didn't fit the needs of the response.
Fox News' Brian Wilson previously reported that "some foreign technology is being used in the current cleanup effort." On June 10, Fox News reporter Brian Wilson wrote on his blog that "[t]he Coast Guard and the Administration are quick to point out that some foreign technology is being used in the current cleanup effort." According to Wilson, this technology includes:
- Canada's offer of 3,000 meters of containment boom
- Three sets of COSEQ sweeping arms from the Dutch
- Mexico's offer of two skimmers and 4200 meters of boom
- Norway's offer of 8 skimming systems
Gibbs: "We are using equipment ... from countries like Norway, Canada, the Netherlands"; no need "thus far" for "any type of waiver." In a June 10 press briefing, Gibbs fielded a question on the administration's position in issuing waivers to the Jones Act. Gibbs stated that "there has not been any problem" with "using equipment" from foreign countries. From the briefing:
Q Senator Bill Nelson is going to write a letter to the President today asking for some clarification on the Jones Act and whether or not it is in any way inhibiting the U.S. government's use of offers from other foreign nations and foreign-flagged vessels to help in any way -- mediation, skimming, any of the other operations you're doing on the Gulf. What is the administration's position on it? The Jones Act was waived during Katrina by the Bush administration to bring oil in. What's your position on this?
MR. GIBBS: I would say this --
Q Is it an impediment or are you open to waiving it if you need to?
MR. GIBBS: No, no, as Admiral Allen said today, we are using equipment and vessels from countries like Norway, Canada, the Netherlands. There has not been any problem with this. If there is the need for any type of waiver, that would obviously be granted. But this -- we've not had that problem thus far in the Gulf.
Q But you're open to waiving it if you need to?
MR. GIBBS: If there's anything that needs to happen, that will -- we will make sure that it happens.
Administration has stated that Jones Act requests for waivers would be issued if necessary
Allen "announced the development of specific guidance to ensure accelerated processing of requests for Jones Act waivers should they be received as a part of the BP oil spill response." The June 15 JIC press release stated that "National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen today announced the development of specific guidance to ensure accelerated processing of requests for Jones Act waivers should they be received as a part of the BP oil spill response." The press release quoted Allen saying, "Should any waivers be needed, we are prepared to process them as quickly as possible." From the press release:
National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen today announced the development of specific guidance to ensure accelerated processing of requests for Jones Act waivers should they be received as a part of the BP oil spill response.
Currently, 15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved in the largest response to an oil spill in U.S. history. No Jones Act waivers have been granted because none of these vessels have required such a waiver to conduct their operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
However, in order to prepare for any potential need, Admiral Allen has provided guidance to the Coast Guard Federal On-Scene Coordinator, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the U.S. Maritime Administration to ensure any Jones Act waiver requests receive urgent attention and processing.
"While we have not seen any need to waive the Jones Act as part of this historic response, we continue to prepare for all possible scenarios," said Admiral Allen. "Should any waivers be needed, we are prepared to process them as quickly as possible to allow vital spill response activities being undertaken by foreign-flagged vessels to continue without delay."
Generally, federal law prohibits a foreign-flagged vessel from transporting merchandise between points in the United States encompassed by the Coastwise laws. CBP makes determinations as to whether or not the Jones Act applies to the activities of a foreign-flagged vessel operating within U.S. waters.
Even if the Jones Act applies, a foreign flagged vessel can still conduct certain planned operations as part of the BP oil spill response if the vessel is an oil spill response vessel and meets the requirements of 46 USC § 55113.
The guidance provided by Admiral Allen would route waivers related to the BP oil spill response through the Federal On-Scene Coordinator, who will forward requests immediately through the National Incident Commander for expedited clearance.
Gibbs on Fox & Friends: If waiver is requested, administration would "waive the Jones Act in 10 seconds." On the June 15 Fox & Friends, Gibbs explained that "there are no pending requests for foreign vessels to come into the Gulf" but that "if somebody down [in the Gulf] needed a ship from the Netherlands or somewhere else, the president and Admiral Allen would waive the Jones Act in 10 seconds."