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Jones Act: Maritime politics strain Gulf oil spill cleanup

Pressure is building for President Obama to lift a 1920 protectionist law so that high-tech foreign oil skimmers can help with the Gulf oil spill. Why are 1,500 available US oil skimmers not on the scene?

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A fleet of oil skimmers collect oil from the broken oil well under the surface at the Gulf oil spill site, approximately 42 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The Coast Guard is calling in more skimming boats and equipment from the Netherlands, Norway, France, and Spain.

Sean Gardner/Reuters

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The Coast Guard Friday "redoubled" efforts to keep the Deepwater Horizon oil spill from impacting Gulf states by calling in more skimming boats and equipment from the Netherlands, Norway, France, and Spain after previously telling one Dutch official "Thanks, but no thanks," to an offer of help.

That revelation comes as Florida lawmakers beg for more skimmers to ward off Gulf spill oil approaching the state's white sand beaches and as the Unified Command – led by Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen – struggles with chain-of-command issues as BP changes its on-scene leadership.

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