Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disastor Summary

Fron the good folks at NRDC
Today’s summary
The courtroom is about to become as treacherous as the open sea has been in the five months since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill focused international attention on the policy and politics of oil. Scores of attorneys will jam a federal courtroom Thursday to argue for almost immediate access to emails and other documents from BP Plc and its business partners as the legal fight over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill heats up. The hearing is the first major gathering of attorneys involved in the huge spill-related litigation since hundreds of civil lawsuits were combined before a judge in New Orleans federal court last month. The hearing will attract some of the Gulf region’s best-known plaintiff’s firms and lawyers who have racked up billions in settlements with drug companies and tobacco firms. The stakes are huge. Some legal consultants estimate the total cost to BP and its co-defendants from the biggest oil spill in U.S. history could run to $100 billion in maximum fines and punitive damages are assessed. Despite the courtroom drama, let’s not forget the people of the Gulf who are looking for answers for what happened and money for their pain and damages.

National News

Reuters: Well could be dead in 4 days
The final chapter has finally arrived. BP Plc’s ruptured Gulf of Mexico well that caused the biggest U.S. offshore oil spill ever could be killed for good within four days, the U.S. official overseeing the spill response said on Wednesday. “Four days from now it can all be done,” National Incident Commander Thad Allen told reporters at a briefing in Kenner, La.

Read more: Hayward: BP could have done a better job
Isn’t hindsight everything? Tony Hayward, stepping down next month as BP’s CEO, told the U.K. parliament’s energy and climate committee Wednesday that BP bears the responsibility of having been a bad manager in the Gulf. The industry was ill-prepared, he said, not to mention the lack of experience in dealing with a spill 5,000 feet below the surface.

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AP: Allen plans to step down on Oct. 1
National Incident Commander Thad Allen plans to step down as incident commander on Oct. 1 – the same day BP PLC installs American Bob Dudley as its new chief executive to replace Tony Hayward. Allen said in an interview that the timing of the transition is not connected to BP’s leadership change. “I worked well with Tony Hayward and I work well with Bob Dudley,” Allen said. “I like to think I work well with anybody.” In a sign of just how popular Allen has become, Wednesday night he was presenting an award at a dinner for the Partnership for Public Service in Washington, D.C. When he walked on stage, the audience stood and applauded him. “I’m just the presenter,” he remarked modestly to the crowd.

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Wall Street Journal: 3,500 idle wells in Gulf ordered plugged
In a setback to the oil and gas industry, a federal order issued Wednesday requires oil and gas companies to permanently plug thousands of Gulf of Mexico wells idle for five years or more. That’s an estimated 3,500 wells that aren’t producing oil or gas. The mandate could cost well owners billions of dollars, but it could also create jobs for rig workers idled by a federal drilling moratorium.

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Reuters: Loss of jobs from moratorium less than feared
A new government report finds that the drilling moratorium in the Gulf will result in the temporary job loss of about 12,000, half of what had been projected. “These jobs would not be permanently lost as a result of the moratorium; most would return following the resumption of deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico,” the report said. “Contrary to the worst-case assumptions in prior studies, many deepwater drilling operators and contractors have kept most of their employees on payroll.”

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Wall Street Journal: La. sues Transocean
The state of Louisiana upped the stakes in the Gulf oil debacle, filing a lawsuit against Transocean Ltd., asking a New Orleans federal judge to rule that the company is broadly liable for damages from the Gulf oil spill. It’s one more case accentuating the dispute over who was responsible and for how much. Transocean said it’s only liable for oil that leaked from its rig—not the oil that gushed from the well for nearly three months.

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Regional Feinberg considers ombudsman to smooth claims process
Claims adjuster Kenneth Feinberg tells that he’s considering creating an ombudsman to increase transparency for claimants. “I’m thinking of providing a coordinator in each state who will be an ombudsman to help the claimant.” Will that help or just provide another level of bureaucracy for the patient people of the Gulf coast?

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Press-Register: Feinberg: ‘I’ll do better’
Feinberg promised several hundred people improvements in the speed, generosity and transparency of his program today, but offered few specific examples of actions he would take to accomplish those things. Meanwhile at a hearing at Orange Beach, Ala., dozens of people told him they filed their claim weeks ago and have heard nothing.

Read more: Fla. AG: Feinberg moving too slowly
Florida’s attorney general says his consumer hotline is getting a lot of complaints from angry consumers, saying Kenneth Feinberg’s Gulf Coast Claims Facility is not responsive to people’s claims for damages from the BP $20 billion fund for damages.

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Times-Picayune: False alarm: Plaquemines Parish fish kill not caused by oil spill
Low tide and high temperatures caused low oxygen levels that suffocated huge numbers of fish in Plaquemines Parish, not the Gulf oil spill. a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said Wednesday.

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Press-Register: BP ends Vessels of Opportunity program
The Mobile Incident Command Post for BP PLC announced Wednesday it is ending the Vessels of Opportunity program in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. More than 3,500 vessels were put to work during the life of the program, and more than $500 million was spent on the VOO program in the three-state coastal area.

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Christian Science Monitor: Still the big question – where’s the oil?
It takes only minutes of digging into the sand to reveal a menace that experts say permanently threatens this picturesque landscape: pools of crude oil lurking less than a foot below the surface. The April 20 explosion of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico released an estimated 205 million gallons of oil into these waters. It remains unclear how much oil was actually recovered, how much remains, and – most important for the fragile coastal ecosystems – where it ended up.

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Video: Tony Hayward defends BP at London inquiry



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