Florida senator: Obama told me we can't deploy oil skimmers because they might be needed elsewhere

A quickie but goodie courtesy of The Shark Tank, which wrangled this interview with LeMieux after a meeting of the Florida GOP. I’d be curious to know when, precisely, O told him that we can’t spare an all-hands-on-deck approach with American skimmers — although given the fact that that remains the policy today, their convo might as well have happened yesterday. As for foreign skimmers, Rob Bluey asks the question of the hour: Why hasn’t Obama waived the Jones Act yet?

Jones Act expert Charlie Papavizas said the 2005 Katrina waiver, which lasted from Sept. 1 to Sept. 19, was used primarily to move cargo between ports, but it didn’t result in any new foreign ships in the region. “Twenty days is not enough time to reposition and do anything useful,” he said…

Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) pressed the president on the Jones Act during a recent face-to-face meeting. LeMieux said the action would signal America’s allies that their help is wanted. Given the dire situation in the Gulf, what’s the harm?

Two other members from Florida, Reps. Corrine Brown (D) and John Mica (R), said their state is suffering while skimmers sit idle. At a hearing on Thursday, Brown held up photos of vessels in Mexico and Norway, asking, “What is the process for the state to take advantage of skimmers from other countries?”…

This, of course, is the primary criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of the spill. While the president says he “will not settle for inaction,” his failure to waive the Jones Act — even if for the sole purpose of sending a message to our allies — suggests he’s not doing everything he can.

Remember, this is a guy who wants us to get started on “clean energy” today, even though it could take decades to develop, because there’s no time like the present to begin work. And yet the Jones Act remains in effect almost 10 weeks after the rig blew, presumably because it’ll “take too long” to get skimmers in there. As for the theory that Obama’s keeping foreign ships out to protect American unions, see Bluey’s piece for a debunking of that.