Keep the Delta Queen on our rivers

Government protects us, or says it does, from virtually every risk. Sometimes it also protects us from our heritage.

That appears to be the situation with the steamboat Delta Queen, which plied the inland waterways for many years. Those who have seen her on the Ohio River, we suspect, enjoyed the glimpse of bygone days.

But the Queen is a wooden craft, outlawed under a 1966 law intended to safeguard passengers from fires aboard ocean-going vessels. For some time, the Queen was granted exemptions from the statute, but Congress’ failure to act regularly on them forced the boat’s owners to tie her up.

Bills in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives would allow the Queen to get up a head of steam again, by granting her a 15-year exemption to the law.

Congress should approve the measure and President Barack Obama should sign it into law.

Is the Queen less safe than more modern steel riverboats?

Of course.

But on the Ohio or Mississippi rivers, her passengers are at comparatively little risk – and many people, we suspect, would consider that a small price to pay for seeing the Queen again.


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