Gulf Coast Oil Disaster Update

I got this from the NRDC
Gulf Coast Disaster – June 2, 2010 – Wednesday AM

Highlights in this issue:

– Robots succeed, cut well pipe

– U.S. opens criminal investigation into oil spill

– BP stock tumbles
– Hollywood director James Cameron of “Avatar” consulted on oil spill
– Jindal wants BP to finance protective barriers
– Editorial: BP tries to keep the media from the story

This morning’s summary:

Attorney General Eric Holder, the nation’s top cop, is turning his attention to the Gulf oil spill, launching criminal and civil investigations into the origins of the disaster that has caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Much like searching for a needle in a haystack, Holder is looking for evidence of illegal behavior. But a criminal investigation is not going to undo the damage that has already been heaped onto the Gulf of Mexico. Reports from residents impacted by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska 21 years ago say a criminal investigation in that case did little to ease their pain or restore their losses. And the same thing is likely to happen here. If BP and Transocean are found culpable in this case, it likely will result in millions of dollars in fines, not jail time for their executives, but it won’t restore the beauty of the wetlands or the fish and wildlife already so badly damaged by this disaster. About the only good things that may come out of this investigation are tougher laws and bigger penalties for companies that err on the side of an oil spill.

Quotable quote:

“We will be meticulous, we will be comprehensive, and we will be aggressive. We will not rest until justice is done.” Attorney General Eric Holder opening an investigation of the Gulf oil spill.

National News

CNN: Robots succeed, cut well pipe, oil gushes into Gulf

Something has finally gone the way the engineers had hoped. Tuesday night, robots successful cut through the riser pipe. Then a diamond saw is expected to make a clean cut so that a cap can be installed as soon as Wednesday. BP says we can expect the flow of oil to increase by 20 percent before the cap can contain the leak—until the real solution—a relief well can be finished and ready to go by August.

Read more

New York Times: U.S. opens criminal probe in spill

The President spoke from the White House, more oil arrived at more beaches, but the most riveting event of the day was the arrival of the Attorney General in the Gulf, saying he is opening criminal and civil investigations into the oil spill. BP says it will cooperate.

Read more from Helene Baker and Peter Cooper

Also see

LA Times: US opens criminal inquiry in oil spill disaster,0,776162.story

AP: BP stock tumbles

BP stock plummeted Tuesday on the announcement of a federal criminal investigation into the oil spill. It was the first trading day since the best-hope effort of the top kill failed over the weekend, BP stock fell 15 percent.

Read more from Mike Kunzelman and Greg Bluestein

Politico: Fed cases in BP might result in fines

According to this analysis in Politico, despite the tough talk about prosecution, it is unlikely that we would see oil executives led off in handcuffs if found liable. The likely result is major fines.

Read more from Josh Gerstein

AP: Feds meet with film director Cameron on oil spill

The man did create the two top-grossing films of all time – one of them way under water. “Titanic” and “Avatar” director James Cameron was brought into the brainstorming session with scientists and federal officials on the oil spill – and, who knows, life can imitate art.

Read more

Check out this People magazine article, too:,,20390429,00.html


AP: Oil closing in on Florida beaches
An oil sheen was spotted nine miles off the coast of Pensacola Beach late Tuesday, and officials believe it may hit the beach on Wednesday.

Read more

CNN: Oil hits Alabama, Mississippi barrier islands

Rust-colored crude oil washed ashore on the barrier islands of Alabama and Mississippi Tuesday.

Read more

Also see

CBS News: Oil spill hits, Ala., Miss., heading to Fla.

NOAA News: NOAA expands area closed to fishing

NOAA has extended the northern and southern boundaries of the closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico to capture portions of the slick moving into waters off eastern Alabama and the western tip of the Florida panhandle. Now almost 76,000 square miles or 31 percent of the Gulf is closed to fishing.

Read more.

Also see

Times Picayune: More Gulf fishing areas closed because of creeping oil spill

CNN: In Gulf states, oil spill darkens fears this hurricane season

Here are the numbers that residents of the Gulf dread as much as the count of barrels spilled. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration anticipates 14 to 23 named storms, eight to 14 of which would be hurricanes. Three to seven of those storms could become major hurricanes, at categories 3, 4 or 5.

Read more

LA Times: Jindal wants BP to finance protective barriers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is skeptical a plan to build sand barriers around the barrier islands can work that fast. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal wants a permit to begin dredging and building new sand barriers against the oil spill. Now, Jindal is asking BP to give him the money – fast – to do it.

Read more

CNN: Oil spill threatens Native American land

There are 700 Native Americans living in the bayou at Port aux Chenes. More than 100 years ago, their ancestors came after being forced out from other ancestral lands. They say no one has come to help and advise them since the Gulf spill except a group of Native Americans who traveled from Alaska to share their experience on coping after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Read more from Patrick Oppman


LA Times: The government puts a ‘rock star’ in charge of the spill

Until last week, Adm. Thad Allen was Commandant of the US Coast Guard. Now he’s the National Incident Commander of the Gulf Oil Spill. Allen has always been widely respected, but some take issue with his very friendly words for BP CEO Tony Hayward. This is the admiral’s last act, and his performance may make or break his reputation.

Read more from JimTankersley,0,6566339.story


MSNBC: BP can take the financial hit from spill

BP has taken a $75 billion dollar hit in value since the Deepwater Horizon blew up and estimates that it has spent $1 billion on cleanup and containment. Don’t feel too sorry. The giant company has very deep pockets to survive.

Read more from Chris Kahn

CNN: BP’s $70 billion whipping

Despite the losses on Wall Street, the real numbers are these. BP made $17 billion in profits last year and is on track to make $20 billion this year.

Read more

Reuters: US fights Transocean’s bid to limit liability

Justice Department lawyers have been in court the last week fighting an effort by Transocean to limit its liability in the disaster to under $27 million. The company has been trying to use a a 159-year old limited liability law. The US attorneys are fighting back with the 1990 law on oil spills.

Read more


Los Angeles Times: BP oil spill: Where’s the government?
Once it became clear that the responsible parties had no clear fix, the administration was too slow to respond and too passive in its approach. President Obama should have raised the level of alarm weeks ago. The government should have been reacting as BP’s overseer, not as its assistant, the Los Angeles Times writes.

Read more:,0,7361912.story

Houston Chronicle: BP tries to keep the media from the story
One of the most disturbing aspects of British Petroleum’s handling of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent continuing oil spill is the company’s ham-handed attempts to restrict media coverage. BP officials seem to be more adept at cutting off information flows than oil leaks, the Houston Chronicle writes.

Read more:


NOAA forecast for surface oil through June 3rd

Times-Picayune: Graphic shows BP’s next strategy to halt Gulf oil leak



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