Gulf Coast Oil Spill Update

I got this update from the concerned folks at NRDC
Highlights in this issue

>Top kill appears to be working; next 12-16 hours critical

> Gulf oil spill becomes the largest oil spill in U.S. History

> Horror stories continue about the Deepwater Horizon explosion

>Many believe the President still doesn’t look in charge

> Hurricane season starts next week; expect a bad one

This morning’s summary

Despite President Obama’s “the buck stops here” press conference on Thursday, he’s still facing a raft of blame and anger over the gushing Gulf oil spill. He returns to the Gulf on Friday to inspect what is happening and to offer comforting words to the people of the Gulf coast as they watch their livelihoods disappear. But the administration is now on the hot seat in the blame game, starting with its failure to appear to be out front and in charge from the beginning. Friday morning, Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen said the ‘top kill’ appears to be working but the next 12-24 hours remain critical. However, nothing is going to reverse the ecological damage, and no one is going to be convinced that this crisis will pass anytime soon.

Quotable quote: “In case you were wondering who’s responsible, I take responsibility,” Obama said Thursday. “It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down.”

National News

New York Times: Gushing oil halted for moment
Don’t breathe easier yet. The “top kill” technique has stopped the flow of oil and gas from a broken well in the Gulf of Mexico, Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard, the leader of the government effort, said Friday morning. However, he stressed that the next 12 to 18 hours will be “very critical” in efforts to permanently stop the spill that is believed to be the largest in US history.

Read more by Clifford Krauss and John Broder

New York Times: BP resumes effort to seal oil well after daylong halt

It’s been a wild roller coaster ride for scientists trying to shut down the oil gushing by millions of gallons into the Gulf of Mexico. Late Thursday BP said it had suspended the top kill effort Wednesday night before because too much of the drilling fluid was escaping with the gas. They resumed the effort Thursday night and said it would be another 24 to 48 hours before they could see if it was really working.

Read more from Clifford Krauss and John M. Broder

Also see:

Times-Picayune: ‘Top kill’ strategy to be adjusted to incorporate other clogging materials

Thursday night BP said that while it continues to run the “drilling mud” through the pipe, it also will add rubber balls and other “clogging agents” in an attempt to clog the pipe.

Read more from Jaquetta White

also see:
MSNBC: BP resumes ‘top kill’ effort to stop leak

CNN: After delay, BP restarts ‘top kill’ effort

CNN: BP upgrades “minor” spill to “catastrophe”
BP CEO Tony Hayward, who came under fire for saying the spill’s environmental impact on Gulf of Mexico would be modest, upgraded his assessment Friday to an “environmental catastrophe.”

Read more:

New York Times: Estimates Suggest Spill Is Biggest in U.S. History

The new official estimate, from the US Geological Survey using NASA imaging, shows the number of barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf is 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day -several times more than the initial estimate of 5,000. That means up to 30 million barrels have polluted the Gulf, almost three times as much as the Exxon Valdez spill of 11 million barrels. The Gulf spill is now by far he largest in American history.

Read more from Tom Zeller,Jr.

Also see:
Los Angeles Times: Gulf oil spill: leak is far greater than Exxon Valdez disaster

Huffington Post: Scientists discover massive new sea oil plume
It’s the second massive plume discovered under water since April 30th. Scientists have detected a plume about 22 miles long headed toward Mobile, Ala.

Read more

Los Angeles Times: Feds approve sand berms

La. Gov. Bobby Jindal and parish presidents were begging for approval from the federal government to build new sand berms to protect the coastal wetlands. They decided Wednesday they would build them even without approval. Thursday, the US Army Corps of Engineers gave approval for 45 miles of berms, less than the locals wanted. The feds said they limited the number because of environmental concerns.

Read more by Julie Cart

Times Picayune: ‘Everything I know and love is at risk’
It was impossible not to watch Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-Louisiana) break down and weep describing what is happening in his home state and not to feel the pain of the people of Louisiana.
Read more from Jonathon Tilove

CNN: Rig survivors: Hold companies accountable
In hearings before Congress Thursday, survivors of the Deepwater Horizon recount a horrific scene as they tried to get off the inferno, and then up to 28 hours later made it to land, but not before agents for BP handed them liability waivers to sign. The family of Gordon Jones, an engineer who was killed, asked Congress to hold the oil companies accountable and to hit them hard where they can feel it—the bottom line.
Read more:

Read more from David Hammer

Read more from Douglas A. Blackmon, Vanessa O’Connell, Alexandra Berzon and Ana Campoy

New York Times: Mud more complex than the garden variety
They call it “mud” but it’s not what you find in your garden. The drilling mud pumped into the well in the “top kill” is made up of clay and other minerals that makes it two to three times as dense as the gas so that it can press downward in the pipe to keep the gas from rising up.
Read more from Henry Fountain

ABC News: Brace for a bad hurricane season

As if people along the Gulf of Mexico didn’t have enough to worry about, researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Mississippi warned that hurricane season starts next week, and it could be a very severe season. NOAA predicted Thursday it will be “active to extremely active” and could snap undersea oil pipelines in ways never before estimated.

Read more:

MSNBC: Oil spill’s energy lesson for Obama

Berkeley Physics Professor Richard Muller says this disaster holds a lesson for President Obama – that offshore drilling does not solve the nation’s energy problems. He provides a discussion on the pros and cons of natural gas.

Read more:

CNN: MMS was troubled long before oil spill

The resignation of the director of the Minerals Management Service Thursday was a step toward revamping the troubled agency but hardly enough for MMS which had a cozy and scandalous relationship with the oil industry long before the Gulf oil spill.

Read more

Wall Street Journal: Assessing ecosystem harm could take years
As horrifying as they are, the scenes of oil sludge on the sands and oil-drenched pelicans may not be the real story. It could be what isn’t seen far out at sea and far under the surface could be far worse, and it could take years to understand how the ecosystem is crippled.

Read more from Jeffrey Ball and Robert Lee Holz

New York Times: BP used riskier methods to seal well before blast
Several days before the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, BP officials chose, partly for financial reasons, to use a type of casing for the well that the company knew was the riskier of two options, according to a BP document.
Read more from Ian Urbina


Los Angeles Times: Companies were rushing to make money faster, survivor says

“I was certain I was going to die.” Stephen Stone, a survivor of the Deepwater Horizon, told the House Judiciary Committee that the April 20 blast was “hardly the first thing to go wrong.’’ He went on to say: “This event was set in motion years ago by these companies needlessly rushing to make money faster, while cutting corners to save money.”

Read more from Richard Simon

Wall Street Journal: BP Risks Big Fines and Loss of Major U.S. Contracts
As it turns out, BP happens to be the biggest supplier of fuel to the US Department of Defense, about $2.2 billion a year in contracts. Not only will it now to be subject to fines from the Gulf spill, but also fallout and loss of some major U.S. contracts.

Read more from Neil King, Jr. and Melanie Trottman



CNN/Huffington Post “Science Guy Bill Nye” shows how top kill works
The American public is really lucky to have Bill Nye, the “Science Guy” on the case. Using a mixture of milk and cornstarch he explains how the “top kill” is supposed to work.


Huffington Post: Dan Froomkin: Obama’s oil spill press conference may have changed perceptions, but reality remains the same
No matter how much the President insisted he was in charge and engaged in this disaster, the truth remains that the federal government has deferred to BP at every turn.

Read more from Dan Froomkin For Big Oil the n-word is “nationalize”
Joe Conason argues that maybe these desperate times deserve desperate measures
Read More:

Times-Picayune: Our bill has come due
Twice in the past five years, Louisiana has been knocked to its knees by disasters rooted in the quest for oil. Our bill has come due, the Times-Picayune writes.
Read more:


MSNBC: Roy Sekoff on ‘Ed Show”: Oil spill “gush-cam” clashes with Obama’s cool confidence
Roy Sekoff of the Huffington Post and Ed Schultz of MSNBC agreed. The Obama cool just didn’t jive with the pictures of the “gush-cam” on the split screen from the President’s news conference. The President should have been more fiery and he definitely didn’t look in control of this one.


Politico: Mary Landrieu: Obama will pay politically for spill
It’s almost hard to believe after the lessons of Katrina that Barak Obama will be seen as disconnected from the disaster in the Gulf, but that’s exactly what Democratic Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu says and predicts the President will pay a political price for his lack of visibility on the disaster.

Read more from Manu Raju


Top Kill graphic



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