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A bipartisan panel appointed by President Obama determined that the Jones Act did not impede cleanup operations in the Gulf of Mexico following the massive oil spill caused by an explosion, then collapse of the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling platform.

Headed by former U.S. Senator Bob Graham and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William K. Reilly, the panel spent six months studying what led to the disaster on April 20, 2010 as well as the efforts to stop the leak and to cleanup the aftermath.

“They did not reject foreign ships because of Jones Act restrictions,” the commission’s report noted when it was submitted to the President on January 11. “These restrictions did not even come into play for the vast majority of vessels operating at the wellhead, because the Act does not block foreign vessels from loading and then unloading oil more than three miles off the coast.

“When the Act did apply, the National Incident Commander [retired U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen] appears to have granted waivers and exemptions when requested,” the panel added.

“The presidential panel has verified everything we were saying throughout the crisis,” noted MTD President Michael Sacco. “The Jones Act played no role in the massive cleanup effort.

“Many American mariners and fishermen worked hard to save the waters in which they earn their livelihoods. I am proud of their efforts and those who came from around the world to help, “ added Sacco.

During the height of the spill, some news reports and politicians claimed the Jones Act was an impediment in bringing necessary equipment to the Gulf. The MTD, its affiliated unions and allies like the Maritime Cabotage Task Force repeatedly pointed out that such attacks were erroneous.

The commission noted while some offers of help from foreign countries were rejected “for operational reasons – for example, Dutch vessels that would have taken weeks to outfit and sail to the region, and a Taiwanese super-skimmer that was expensive and highly inefficient in the Gulf – they did not reject foreign ships because of Jones Act restrictions.”

The almost 400-page report called on the President and Congress to consider new regulations and spending for offshore drilling operations. It noted the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill were the result of a series of corporate and regulatory failures over an extended period of time.