From John Fund at the Wall Street Journal (bolds are mine):
The Obama Administration has tirelessly pushed the line that it has employed every available tool to fight the Gulf oil spill from “Day One.” Well, it’s certainly true that every media resource is being deployed to squelch comparisons with the slow-footed 2005 Bush administration response to Hurricane Katrina.
But as for having actual oil-spill fighting technology on hand before the crisis, as the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 requires, the administration was clearly caught unprepared.
After the Transocean rig blew up two weeks ago, it turns out the federal government didn’t have a single fire boom on hand in the Gulf to enable a controlled burn of the oil slick, according to The Press-Register of Mobile, Alabama. Instead, the government quickly purchased the only fire boom that an Illinois-based manufacturer had in stock, and then asked the company to call its customers around the world to see if the U.S. government could borrow their booms.
… Another factor may also have played a role in the failure to properly prepare. Certain environmental groups have long opposed the 1994 federal response plan for the Gulf region that called for burning any oil spill right away.
… I’d say there was a far bigger downside to both humans and animal life from allowing an oil slick that now measures some 130 miles by 70 miles to continue to grow.
Note that it isn’t BP or Transocean that is required to have “actual oil-spill fighting technology on hand.” It’s the federal government.