It seems that the government may have refused Dutch help with the Deepwater Horizon disaster because EPA regulations wouldn’t allow it:
The U.S. Government has apparently reconsidered a Dutch offer to supply 4 oil skimmers. These are large arms that are attached to oil tankers that pump oil and water from the surface of the ocean into the tanker. Water pumped into the tanker will settle to the bottom of the tanker and is then pumped back into the ocean to make room for more oil. Each system will collect 5,000 tons of oil each day. . . The Dutch system has been used successfully in Europe.
The Dutch offered to fly their skimmer arm systems to the Gulf 3 days after the oil spill started. The offer was apparently turned down because EPA regulations do not allow water with oil to be pumped back into the ocean. If all the oily water was retained in the tanker, the capacity of the system would be greatly diminished because most of what is pumped into the tanker is sea water.
As of June 8th, BP reported that they have collected 64,650 barrels of oil in the Gulf. That is less than one day’s rated capacity of the Dutch oil skimmers.
So in the twisted logic of our government, it was better not to skim off the oil at all than to skim a lot of it but put a little back. Only weeks later did they begin to consider whether that might have been a bad policy.
UPDATE: I’m guessing that this is what President Obama was talking about when he said this:
As a result of these efforts, we’ve directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology. And in the coming weeks and days, these efforts should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well.
Yeah, we’ve “directed” BP to use equipment and technology now that we forbade them from using for the first five weeks.