Help Us, Help You


As critics of the BP oil spill increasingly turn their attention to the government response, we note that the lack of international help has become an issue. Or, more to the point, why the government hasn’t accepted more of it.

According to the AP and a variety of sources, the Coast Guard is reporting about 107 offers of help from 44 nations. But many of those offers are said to be weeks old, with a “small” number accepted. “The vast majority are still under review, according to a list kept by the State Department,” says the AP, adding that “… in recent days and weeks, for reasons BP has never explained, many fishing boats hired for the cleanup have done a lot of waiting around.”

All this is heating up because of a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) presides. The famous case, says the wire service, is “where the Dutch government offered April 30 to provide four oil skimmers that collectively could process more than 6 million gallons of oily water a day. It took seven weeks for the U.S. to approve the offer.”

They say that White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Thursday mocked the idea that “somehow it took the command 70 days to accept international help.”

“That is a myth,” he declared, “that has been debunked literally hundreds of times.”

Gibbs said two dozen foreign vessels were operating in the Gulf before this week. He did not specifically address the Dutch ship issue. And he apparently didn’t understand the question.

It’s not that it took 70-plus days to accept ANY international help. It’s that it’s still taking so long to clear the vast majority of the help. Hey, do you have to officially stop using the war metaphor when you’re showing no urgency on accepting the help of allies?

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

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