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In deep

U.S. officials had the option of help from Dutch cleanup experts, but refused

Issue: "Tilting at turbines," July 17, 2010

Three days after the BP oil disaster began gushing some 60,000 barrels daily of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Dutch officials offered the U.S. government a goldmine of help: a fleet of ships specifically designed to handle major oil spills. The ships were so advanced, each one could handle more cleanup than all the U.S. vessels initially responding to the disaster. The United States said thanks but no thanks. At least 13 other nations offered similar help, but U.S. officials declined.

Two weeks later, the U.S. State Department released a statement acknowledging the international offers but said: "There is no need right now the U.S. cannot meet." Obviously that was not the case. Critics say the Obama administration refused to waive the Jones Act, a law that bars foreign vessels from carrying cargo between points in the U.S. waters. A more likely culprit: EPA regulations. Though Dutch ships can almost completely skim oil from water, EPA rules mandate that water must be 99.9985 percent pure before ships return it to the Gulf of Mexico-a nearly impossible standard in the best of times. Instead, U.S. ships store the water and dispose of it later, greatly slowing the process, and leaving millions of gallons of oil floating in the water. Yet, the Obama administration has flogged BP and the oil industry for failing to manage the oil spill while doing little to address the increased need for deep-water drilling of both oil and natural gas.

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Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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