Saturday, August 25, 2007

Save the Delta Queen

The Delta Queen is a traditional steamboat that's been operating for years under a special exemption to federal regulations. Now congress is refusing to renew its exemption and it looks like the old steamboat will have to retire. There's a web site that's trying to Save the Delta Queen.

Here's more info from an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer:

In June, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed its bill to renew the Coast Guard bill, but without the Delta Queen exemption - meaning that the boat must cease operating when its current exemption expires in November 2008.

The committee's chairman, Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., opposes the exemption because, he says, the boat's advanced age and wood construction present an unacceptable safety risk, according to spokeswoman Mary Kerr.

"The exemption for the Delta Queen is from fire protection standards that apply to all other passenger vessels operating in the United States. I can't imagine the number of lives that could be lost if a fire started on the Delta Queen when everyone is asleep," Oberstar said in a statement.

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, also opposes the exemption, mainly because the boat is not unionized.

He told Majestic that he would not support the exemption unless the Seafarers International Union gets behind it. Majestic spokeswoman Ann Marie Ricard said the company reached out to the union but didn't get an indication that it would be supportive of the exemption.

Many years ago, we enjoyed a steamboat ride on her sister ship, the American Queen, cruising out of New Orleans. We hope the old steamboat can be saved.