Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disaster Summary

Thanks to the good folks at NRDC.
Today’s summary
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, creating havoc in the Gulf and focusing attention on just how much the nation is willing to sacrifice in its lust for fossil fuels. It called into question safety issues and sloppy procedures. This oil spill was unprecedented in its size and duration, as were the use of chemical dispersants and controlled burns to remove the oil. It is as yet uncertain how the spill itself and the attempts to disperse the oil will affect the health of clean-up workers and volunteers, residents, and visitors in the Gulf. But one thing is certain. BP and the government can now write the playbook on how to prevent this kind of disaster from happening again and what to do if it does. So far, the details being uncovered are alarming. New evidence reveals that surprise inspections from federal authorities were rare on oil rigs. Meanwhile, BP has paid pay czar Kenneth Feinberg $2.5 million to distribute money to the spill victims and the tab will keep rising, too. And remarkably, the oil spill hasn’t become a campaign issue in this year’s midterm elections.

Quotable Quote:
‘You’re more apt to see what actual operations are with a surprise inspection,’ said Perry Jennings, who heads the union local that represents federal offshore inspectors. “And if something’s going on that’s inappropriate, that’s the best time to catch it.”

And this one, too
“Under BP’s proposed timeline, this court will be lucky to see even a personal injury or wrongful death damage trial before 2013!” plaintiffs’ attorneys wrote in a court filing.

National News

Washington Post: Investigators look into BP’s cost-cutting culture
Nobody is saying that BP was really cheap in its quest for black gold. But now federal investigators are probing what looks to them like BP’s save-money culture. BP witnesses have acknowledged in commission hearings on the cause of the disaster that oil drilling is a business, and costs have to be taken into account. But the government is raising the question of whether BP took incremental shortcuts because it felt rushed to finish the problem-plagued Macondo exploration well, a job costing BP about $1 million a day.

Read more

Wall Street Journal: Lawyers selected to lead lawsuits against BP
A federal judge in New Orleans has selected the lawyers who will lead the Gulf oil spill litigation for the plaintiffs. The list includes a number of Gulf coast litigators, a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Michael Epsy and Exxon oil spill veteran Elizabeth Cabraser,

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Bloomberg: BP paid Feinberg $2.5 million so far
BP’s tab for the oil spill keeps growing. In the latest bill, BP has paid pay czar Kenneth Feinberg and his law firm more than $2.5 million in 3 1/2 months to administer the $20 billion fund set up by BP to compensate victims of its oil spill. The $850,000 monthly payments to Feinberg’s firm will continue through year-end and then will be reviewed. For BP, it’s just another day in the Gulf and another dollar in a never-ending tab.

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Washington Post: BP’s leadership problem
Now that the dust is settling in the Gulf oil disaster, there’s plenty of scrutiny of every piece of information relating to this disaster. BP’s working papers reveal a poorly managed response, a delay of the release of information about the spill’s worst-case scenario and confusion about the severity of the spill.

Read more

Check this one out, too
Frontline and ProPublica analyze BP’s corporate culture in the spill

Wall Street Journal: Surprise inspections rare on oil rigs
Surprise inspections of deepwater drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico dwindled to about three a year over the past decade. And since 2004 federal authorities haven’t made a single surprise inspection on any of the 50 or so deepwater natural gas and oil production platforms in the Gulf, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

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Commoditysearch.cim: Commission to look at future of oil drilling in US
On Wednesday, the BP oil spill commission will meet to take a look at what the future of offshore drilling is for America. The commission will also talk about the rules that decide the parameters of offshore drilling in the U.S.

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New York Times: Hungary sends polluters to jail
The US uses kid gloves in dealing with polluters. That’s not the case in other parts of the world. The managing director of the company in Hungary whose reservoir unleashed a lethal torrent of red sludge on three villages last week has been arrested. Ouch! He will be charged with criminal negligence leading to a public catastrophe, and if convicted could face a sentence of up to 10 years. Would this kind of punishment keep industries on their toes to prevent pollution? Would it even be legal?

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Houston Chronicle: Oil spill hasn’t become a campaign issue
The oil spill and offshore drilling have barely been a blip on the political radar during this campaign season. Few candidates are talking about those issues – even in coastal states where what happens in federal waters can play an important role onshore, the Houston Chronicle reports.

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Huffington Post: Gulf coast residents feel abandoned
BP may be cleaning up the Gulf but righting other wrongs is going to be far more difficult.
Gulf residents are fighting for economic survival, and the nation’s short attention span is deeply unsettling, especially with oil still washing ashore.

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AP: Fighting words from Billy Nungesser
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said Monday he’s concerned federal officials and oil giant BP are trying to ratchet down the response efforts and equipment available for oil cleanup even though there is plenty of oil still washing up on the Gulf coast. “We continue to fight more with the Coast Guard and BP than we do with the oil.”

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Times-Picayune: BP put profits above safety
BP’s history of placing profits over safety preceded the Macondo disaster, the Times-Picayune writes.

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Wall Street Journal: Two decades of oil drilling into the Dead Sea
The history of deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is a long and tortuous one. If we only knew then what we know now, the devastating oil spill may have been avoided. The Wall Street Journal combs through the history of deepwater drilling and analyzes the decisions that led to drilling 3,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and to today’s events where millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf, marine and wildlife was wrecked and the economy of the region destroyed.

Read more


Wall Street Journal: Oil rush



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