The government can, and has been trying to, stop the oil spill in the gulf of Mexico. They have tried tactics aimed to clog the hole, such as trying to force mud into the hole- however, this was unsuccessful. Currently, they are trying a tactic that involves using robots with saws to open a hole in the leak, which they can then try to inspect and use to help control the flow of the oil. However, controlling the spill, not stopping it, seems like the most doable option in the near future. None of the tactics they are trying have EVER been tried so far under water- right now, it is looking grim- however, with technology and other resources of the US governemnt, hopefully a solution will soon be found.
Note that essentially none of the approaches described in the other answer were done by “the government.” They were done by BP.
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