Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disasator Summary

From the good folks at NRDC.
This morning’s summary
The search for a clear explanation of what went wrong April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico is intensifying as federal investigators start sifting through the details of why the Deepwater Horizon exploded. At a hearing in Houston on Monday, investigators were clearly hampered by the technological complexity of the mile-deep well and the organizational complexity of an operation that involved multiple companies with disparate financial interests. “It’s uniquely complicated,” said recently retired United States district judge Wayne Andersen who is part of the fact-finding federal panel investigating the cause of the explosion. The government has struggled to sort out who knew what and when, and who had authority over and responsibility for various aspects of the drilling operation and rig maintenance. Nothing is easy in this fact-finding mission. BP is still ‘fishing’ for the blowout preventer in the disabled well, a device that may be an important clue to how the explosion occurred. Claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg has taken the helm of the $20 billion BP escrow fund and is under fire from all sides in just his first day on the job. The feds are considering lifting the six-month drilling moratorium before the six-month expiration on Nov. 30. And so far, BP has paid out $400 million in claims payments.

Quotable quote:

“The day is here,” Kenneth R. Feinberg announced on Monday. “If you’ve got a claim from BP, those days are over. BP’s out of the business.”

And this one, too
“I don’t know why Obama ever trusted these BP guys! They would lie to their mothers” – Filmmaker Spike Lee

National News

Wall Street Journal: BP continues work on broken pipe

BP is still working on their ‘fishing’ efforts to bring up the ruptured pipeline and failed blowout preventer from the ruins of the rig. They had hoped to finish within three days, and that time has now passed so the federal government has asked for a fallback plan if this one doesn’t work.

Read more from Mark Peters

Wall Street Journal: Regulator opens door to easing drilling ban
Michael Bromwich, the Obama administration’s chief offshore drilling regulator, said Monday the government could partially lift a moratorium on new deep-water oil exploration before Nov. 30 if oil companies can persuade the government their operations are safe. Bromwich says some types of rigs are safer than others.

Read more from Siobhan Hughes

Bromwich letter

Propublica: As Gulf spill claims czar takes over, a checklist of promised changes

Propublica makes a list of the changes that claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg has promised to make in the claims system.

Read more from Sasha Chavkin

Also see this New York Times:

Los Angeles Times: Did BP fail to take action on technical problems?

Federal investigators Monday suggested that BP knew of major technical problems but failed to take significant action before the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, killing 11 men.

Read more from Rong Gong-Lin II

Check out this one, too

AP: Oil spill investigators focus on communication

Communication and maintenance. That was the focus of hearings Monday on the blowout of the Deepwater Horizon on April 20. Federal investigators are trying to assess the chain of command and whether workers on the rig knew what to do in an emergency. One fact did surface – key managers for BP, the driller and Transocean, the owner of the rig – were not in regular contact.

Read more from Ramit Plushnick-Masti and Harry R. Weber

Los Angeles Times: Top oil rig official didn’t know who was in charge

Paul Johnson was a rig manager for Transocean. When the Deepwater Horizon exploded, there was plenty of confusion. He testified he didn’t know who was in charge when the rig exploded because communications had been cut off.

Read more from Rong Gong-Lin II


News 6: BP reports nearly $400 million in claims payments

BP on Monday reported that it has made nearly $400 million in claims payments during the last 16 weeks as the program was transitioned to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF).

Read more

Wall Street Journal: Feinberg criticized for spill-compensation terms

Claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg came under fire the first day on the job Monday. He was criticized for being too restrictive in the terms of payment for claims. The claims administrator has yet to issue a formal protocol for how he will handle final settlement claims, a process that will begin after Nov. 23.

Read more from Neil King, Jr.

Politics Oil spill bills stall in Senate as industry, environmental lobbyists battle

The House of Representatives passed multiple bills this summer in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, including the high-profile CLEAR and SPILL Acts. In a pattern that has become familiar to observers of the 111th Congress, the Senate has yet to address either bill. This is an account of the ferocious war waged so far this summer among lobbyists of the energy companies and environmental groups—61 entities in all.

Read more from Andrew Kreighbaum

The Hill: Study says offshore drilling industry forever changed after Gulf spill
A new study says that new regulations and enforcement of offshore drilling may result in consolidation of Gulf drilling in the hands of fewer bigger companies, but that may also lead to less production as the bigger firms go for more exploration.

Read more from Ben Gemen

Fox 411: Spike Lee blasts President Obama on oil spill response
It’s not unexpected, but we can only marvel at the turn of events that causes Director Spike Lee to call out President Barack Obama, as he called out George Bush on Katrina. Lee has just released his new documentary on the Gulf oil spill. “I don’t know why Obama ever trusted these BP guys! They would lie to their mothers,” Lee opines to GQ’s Mark Healy. “[Former BP president Tony] Hayward does not give a [bleep]. The thing we don’t talk about is that 11 Americans lost their lives and it took seven weeks to invite their families to the White House. I’m not trying to bash my man, but that’s a long time.”

Read more


Reuters: US research vessel sees few signs of spilled oil

Scientists aboard a U.S. research ship have started an around-the-clock search for elusive signs of oil lurking beneath the Gulf of Mexico’s surface in what they jokingly call “Operation Dipstick.” The Pascagoula, Mississippi-based crew has so far only found small spots or “sags” of dissolved oxygen around the Macondo well, an indication that oil-eating microbes have been at work, they said.

Read more from Anna Driver

St. Petersburg Times: EPA kept close watch on use of dispersants

This is a column written by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. She says the Gulf oil spill is personal for her. She grew up in New Orleans and Katrina took her mother’s home. Jackson. She insists the decision to let BP use Corexit “was not taken lightly” and that the EPA was vigilant in its monitoring.

Read more from Lisa Jackson

Orlando Sentinel: More Florida visitors flock to oil-stained Sunshine State

The Sunshine State drew 20.8 million people during the April-to-June period, compared with 20.1 million a year earlier. The 3.5 percent increase in the statewide tourist head count comes at an awkward time for the tourism industry, which is still trying to convince the giant oil company BP that it needs millions to continue promoting the state.

Read more from Sara K. Clarke,0,6493889.story

Los Angeles Times: Has oil spill caused a new fish kill?

Thousands of fish of different species have been found dead floating at the mouth of the Mississippi River, and scientists in Louisiana are trying to figure out if they died as a result of the oil or the dispersants.

Read more from Margot Roosevelt

NPR: What to do with the trash left behind from Gulf cleanup

47,000 tons of oil solid waste from the Gulf oil spill. Where does it go now?

NPR talks it over with the Sierra Club.

Read more from Melissa Block

the town Oil spill stigma affecting Louisiana housing market

The oil spill is affecting real estate values in Louisiana and that includes areas inland away from the Gulf.

Read more from Jeff Mathews


Mercury Butler: Big problems come with small solutions

Financial columnist Steve Butlers asks why BP hasn’t been treated like any small business would be in an American court. “In small business the defendant in a civil suit sits and watches while the courts run his or her business until the case is decided. The court names people to the board and effectively determines when and what money will be spent. Why this hasn’t happened to BP yet is astounding to me, but just around the corner, they will get treated like every other business in America.

Read more from Steve Butler


USA Today: First catch from the Gulf: Is the seafood really safe?

USA Today travels with David Morales, a third generation shrimper, on his first day back at work on opening day of the white shrimp season and looks into the inspection process for seafood.

Read more from Rick Jervis



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