In other news, BP and the Obama administration face mounting complaints that they are ignoring foreign offers of equipment and making little use of the fishing boats and volunteers available to help clean up what may now be the biggest spill ever in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Coast Guard said there have been 107 offers of help from 44 nations, ranging from technical advice to skimmer boats and booms. But many of those offers are weeks old, and only a small number have been accepted, with the vast majority still under review, according to a list kept by the State Department.
In fact, the vast majority of the "small number" that have been accepted are just for equipment and personnel, not boats.
And 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.
A report prepared by investigators with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., detailed one case in which 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.
And yet, there is no evidence that these vessels are on scene conducting oil recovery operations. We need a list.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Thursday scorned 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."
He said 24 foreign vessels were operating in the Gulf before this week. He did not specifically address the Dutch vessels.
Liar! There are 22 offers of help that, according to the State Department, are still being considered, or were being considered just two days ago. If what Gibbs says is true, what are the names and specifications of these vessels.
How can the Coast Guard and/or the Department of Homeland Security not have a list of foreign vessels working in U.S. waters?
The help is needed. Based on some government estimates, more than 140 million gallons of crude have now spewed from the bottom of the sea since the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform, eclipsing the 1979-80 disaster off Mexico that had long stood as the worst in the Gulf.
One possible option for the government is a huge new piece of equipment: the world's largest oil-skimming vessel, which arrived Wednesday.
The A Whale is still tied to the dock awaiting approval from the U.S.C.G., the E.P.A. and a confirmation that its operation will not violated Jones Act cabotage law.
Meanwhile, according to other oil spill estimates the amount of oil in the water is more than twice what is being reported here. I think we're looking at more like 300 million gallons.