Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disastor News Summary

This morning’s summary:

From the good folks of NRDC
The weather is not cooperating in the Gulf of Mexico. With predictions of a 50 percent chance of a tropical depression or storm within the area in the next 48 hours, crews on dozens of ships around the blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico are on edge and preparing to evacuate Thursday. Work has been stopped on drilling the relief wells, so near their target. If the weather forces workers to leave the leak site, the final sealing of the well could be delayed 10 to 14 days. BP officials said they were confident the well as currently configured would hold up during a storm. But the cap that has been plugging up the oil leak for nearly a week may have to be reopened, allowing thousands of gallons of oil to spew out into the sea again. “This is necessarily going to be a judgment call,” said Ret. Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point person on the spill. It’s also a huge setback just as reports were turning optimistic about the prospects of shutting down that gushing well ahead of schedule. And this could be the scene on the Gulf for the next couple months as the hurricane season roars into the region.

Quotable quote:

“The greatest risk to our economy is the moratorium,” Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel

And this one, too:

“We have come to send a message to Washington, D.C.: Let our people work,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

National News

AP: Gathering storm halts Gulf oil well work

The work on the relief well was getting so close to completion, but a storm brewing in the Caribbean brought the effort to a standstill Wednesday. The cap that has been keeping the oil bottled up since last week may have to be reopened, and crude may gush into the sea again for days. Boat captains hired by BP for skimming duty were sent home and told they wouldn’t be going back out for five or six days.

Read more from Colleen Long and Michael Kunzelman

CNN: “Static Kill” could begin within 48 hours

BP could try an operation by this weekend to permanently seal its breached Gulf of Mexico oil well — but only if the weather cooperates, and BP gets a crucial casing in place, the government’s point man on the oil spill said Wednesday. Right now, this timetable looks unlikely.

Read more

New York Times: Workers on doomed rip voiced safety concerns

A confidential survey of workers on the Deepwater Horizon in the weeks before the oil rig exploded showed that many of them were concerned about safety practices and feared reprisals if they reported mistakes or other problems. They said the rig had never been in dry dock in its entire nine years of operation even though guidelines called for inspection every three to five years.

Read more from Ian Urbina

Bloomberg: BP should provide details of $20 billion fund, lawyers say

BP should be required to specify in writing how it will fund, protect and replenish a $20 billion fund dedicated to paying cleanup and damage claims from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, lawyers suing the company said.

Read more Laurel Brubaker Calkins and Margaret Cronin Fisk

USA Today: Study: Dispersants don’t seem to disrupt marine life

Dispersants used to battle the Gulf oil spill don’t appear to interfere with reproduction, development and other biological processes in marine life, a study by the Environmental Protection Agency reported Wednesday.

Read more from Elizabeth Weise


Politico: House okay’s drilling bills

Two bills aimed at responsible offshore drilling practices passed the House on Wednesday One would force the oil industry to more than double its investment in spill-prevention and cleanup technologies and consolidate oversight agencies. The second bill would redirect funding currently devoted to studying deepwater drilling techniques to safety strategies.

Read more from Giovanni Russonello

Main Justice: Allen meets with attorney general
Thad Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral and government point man on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, met with Attorney General Eric Holder and his staff at Justice Department headquarters on Tuesday to update the nation’s top federal prosecutor on the latest developments in response to the spill.

Read more from Ryan J. Reilly


Los Angeles Times: Gulf oil spill: Pro drilling rally

Thousands of Louisianans filled the Cajundome stadium in Lafayette Wednesday to protest the federal moratorium on exploratory drilling for oil in deep-sea waters.

Read more from Rong-Gong Lin II

Also see this one: Louisiana governor: Let’s start drilling

PostonPolitics: Crist orders counties to reconsider property tax bills in wake of spill

Gov. Charlie Crist issued an executive order Wednesday which calls for BP to foot the bill for any lost tax revenue to cities, counties and schools. “I have not asked BP’s permission to do this. We got it from the Constitution,” Crist said.

Read more

AJC: Charities struggle to raise money for spill victims

Charities are having a tough time getting donations to help the victims of the Gulf oil spill. After Hurricane Katrina, Catholic Charities USA received more than $160 million in donations. Since the BP oil spill, the group has received $37,000.

Read more from Bob Keefe

SF Gate: Gulf oil spill forces some families to part with pets
The economic impact of the oil disaster is forcing some families to give up the pets they can no longer afford to feed. One shelter reports receiving as many as 40 surrendered companion animals in a single day.

Read more

AP: Judge halts oil, gas development on Chukchki Sea

A federal judge on Wednesday stopped companies from developing oil and gas wells on billions of dollars in leases off Alaska’s northwest coast. The judge said the now-discredited Minerals Management Service failed to analyze the environmental effect of natural gas development despite industry interest and specific lease incentives for such development.

Read more from Dan Joling


New York Times: 4 oil firms commit $1 billion for Gulf rapid response plan

Four of the world’s biggest oil companies—ExxonMobil, Conoco Phillips, Dutch Royal Shell and Chevron—announced Wednesday that they are committing $1 billion to create a rapid-response system to deal with deepwater oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. They are seeking to restore public confidence in the industry after the BP disaster painfully exposed how unprepared the industry was for a major accident. They may be trying to gather goodwill to stay a step ahead of the environmentalists and members of Congress who vow there will be tougher standards when oil drilling resumes after the ban.

Read more from Jad Mouawad

Wall Street Journal: Energy firms step up lobby efforts

Energy firms with interests in the Gulf of Mexico have ramped up their lobbying efforts. The industry’s primary Washington lobbying organization, the American Petroleum Institute, nearly doubled its spending on lobbying to $2.3 million in the three-month period since the April 20 Gulf explosion.

Read more from Brody Mullins

Wall Street Journal: Drill ban hits services firms

A 20-mile stretch of highway along the Louisiana Gulf coast is lined with companies that provide services to offshore drillers, from oil-rig caterers to equipment makers. None of them are eligible for BP’s compensation funds; many say they have seen their revenue drop in the two months since the federal government imposed the drilling moratorium.

Read more from Russell Adams

New York Times: A remedy turns into a catastrophe for oysters

Just days into the spill, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, with the support of local parish officials, ordered the opening of giant valves on the Mississippi River, releasing torrents of freshwater that they hoped would push oil back out to sea. Now, reports indicate that the freshwater diversions have had a catastrophic impact on southeastern Louisiana’s oyster beds far in excess of the damage done by the oil.

Read more from John Collins Rudolf

Los Angeles Times: A bag and a trap, oil spill invention is a keeper

Gerry Matherne’s apparatus looks like a trash bag in a big crab trap, but it works like a sieve to snag sludge and oil while seawater passes through. BP officials say they aim to build and deploy 100 units by the end of the month, and add more after that if needed.

Read more from Bob Drogin,0,3196450.story


Politico: No need to end offshore drilling

T. Boone Pickens and Dan DiMicco say it’s a mistake to abandon all offshore drilling even as alternative energy sources are developed. “We need a vigorous examination to determine the cause of the spill and ensure that such a disaster never happens again. But we cannot lose sight of the important role that offshore drilling — along with other domestic energy resources — plays in increasing U.S. energy and economic security.”

Read more by Dan Dimicco and T. Boone Pickens


AP: Smithsonian holdings to aid researchers in Gulf

Scientists studying the massive BP oil spill are turning to a vast collection of preserved animals at the Smithsonian to see what kind of changes the oil spill may wreak among life forms in the Gulf of Mexico. The museum holds the most complete set of invertebrate species from the Gulf.

Read more from Brett Zongker


Ø NOAA Forecast Trajectory for Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ø Tracking the oil spill



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