Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disaster Summary

From the good folks at NRDC.
Today’s summary
The presidential commission investigating the Gulf oil spill is struggling to formulate an oil drilling policy for the future in the face of the worst environmental disaster in US history. “We’re headed toward a time when offshore oil will constitute the vast majority of domestic oil and gas production,” co-chair William Reilly said. But commissioner Cherry Murray, the dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, sees it differently, “The hazards of ultra deep-water need to be spelled out a little bit more.” The bottom line is that we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. The progress toward alternate energy is very slow. Progress in developing electric cars and better hybrids are still in the laboratory. The commission is expected to deliver its report and recommendations to the president in January. Not much is going to change in that small time frame. There are plenty of ideas being kicked around. There is little movement on the legislative track. The Gulf catastrophe raised the public’s awareness briefly, but their attention is now riveted on other issues, including the economy, the rescue of the Chilean miners, the midterm elections. Let’s hope the commission’s report won’t be the hard work of just another blue-ribbon panel that gets shelved to collect dust.

Quotable Quote
“Next time we have a hole in the Gulf, we should call in the Chilean government” – filmmaker Michael Moore on the rescue of the Chilean miners.

And this one
“I envision there will be some areas where cleanup will go on through winter, although there will be others that will close down within a matter of weeks” — Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft

National News

Wall Street Journal: Commission paralyzed on future of offshore drilling
The president’s commission on offshore oil is torn as it debates the future of offshore oil. So far, the commission debated and reached no conclusions on its draft recommendations that say, “The national interest requires the continuation and expansion of a strong offshore drilling program, but one with a better balancing of risk and with greater safety protections for human life, the environment, and the economy.” You can imagine there are opinions on all sides of this issue.

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And see this one
Spill commission doesn’t address controversial reports

Wall Street Journal: Informal poll: 90 percent support lifting drill moratorium
The Wall Street Journal is out with a non-scientific poll asking what people think about the Obama administration’s decision to lift the moratorium on Gulf oil drilling. More than 90 percent think it’s a good idea. Remember, it’s not a scientific poll.

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Business Week: SEC warns oil spill victims on scams
Watch out. The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday warned individuals and small businesses about potential investment frauds targeting those who get payouts from the BP oil spill.

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Reuters: Commission: Award oil leases based on safety records
The federal government should consider oil companies’ safety records and drilling experience before awarding leases to develop riskier offshore areas, the co-chairs of the White House oil spill commission said Wednesday.

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Reuters: Oil workers relieved but wary that drill ban ends
Oil drill workers say lifting the oil drill ban will not end the uncertain future they face.

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The New York Times: Jack Lew nomination in limbo over oil
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is not loosening her grip over the nomination of OBM Director Jack Lew. Even though the Gulf drilling moratorium has been lifted, she said she would continue the hold for at least several more weeks as she evaluated the performance of federal energy regulators in speeding up permitting for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Times-Picayune: Feinberg pays out $1 billion to oil spill victims
Independent oil spill claims administrator Ken Feinberg appears to be hitting his stride, paying about $1 billion to victims across the Gulf Coast in the past month alone. The payments are coming more quickly and the red tape is being cut.

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CNN: Cleanup will continue into winter
The oil spill cleanup work along the Gulf coast is far from over. Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft, the new federal on-scene coordinator, said Wednesday that operations in some areas will continue into the winter.

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Washington Post: Good reason to lift the moratorium
One can sense the whiff of politics in the administration’s decision to lift the drilling moratorium as the midterm elections near. Still, President Obama is justified in allowing offshore drilling to proceed, the Washington Post writes.

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Press-Register: Back to drilling just not the same way
We are a wiser nation because of this catastrophe. As the oil industry gears up to full power, let’s use our hard-earned wisdom to ensure that such a disaster never happens again — and, if one does, that a solid plan is in place to manage and mitigate the effects, the Press-Register writes.

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Feature Lack of research vessels hampers oil spill science
There aren’t enough research vessels these days to conduct the kind of experiments needed in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, reports. A number of them saw action in the Gulf this summer. But that fleet isn’t big enough. “You can sneak into the open Gulf in some of these boats in calm weather,” says Steve Lanoux, assistant director for operations at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. “But that size of vessel can get into trouble pretty quickly, and can’t handle big gear or work very deep.”

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