Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disaster Summary

From the good folks at NRDC
Today’s summary
The oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is almost six months old, and the real question to ask now is this: Will anything change? There’s more scrutiny right now of US oil drilling policies. There’s more caution in the oil industry. But there’s no movement in our car-crazed society to change our habits, drive less frequently or use public transportation more often. It will take time for the lessons of the oil spill to sink in, and maybe they never will. But there already are a few lessons emerging from the Gulf that could be an effective road map for the future. Drilling is not risk-free, that’s for sure. We now realize that better recovery plans must be in place in the event of a disaster. Ret. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal point person for the BP spill, is recommending that an independent organization — not the oil company that caused the spill — should take the lead in future such emergencies. Allen said there was much public distrust of the cleanup effort because BP, which was running the show, still had shareholders to please and an image to protect. Are we going to step up and make some new rules ahead of the next environmental disaster or sit back and flail about when there is another crisis?

Quotable Quote
“One thing we have learned is the oil companies really do have talented engineers,” says Jeffrey Rachlinski, a law professor at Cornell. “They can come up with good plans but they’re not going to do it unless they have to because it’s costly.”

National News

Business Week: First Gulf spill trial could start next June
The first trial in the BP oil spill disaster may be a long time getting started. A federal judge signaled Friday that the first trial involving damage claims by businesses and individuals could begin no sooner than next summer. A BP lawyer says that’s too soon and wants the judge overseeing this litigation to adopt BP’s recommendation to hold the first trial in 2013 or 2014. “That’s not feasible to me,” replied U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.

Read more BP may seek to cap liability at $75m
BP says it wants to do everything it can to make things right in the Gulf of Mexico but now comes word from a BP lawyer in court that it may try to cap its liability at $75 million. “We’re shocked over here to hear the defendants now bring up this $75 million cap,” a plaintiff’s lawyer said. “We were under the impression it was waived.”

Read more

Check this one out, too

AP: Halliburton’s 3Q earnings double despite oil spill
In the first major oil services company to report third-quarter earnings, Halliburton Co. said Monday its net income more than doubled in the third quarter as vigorous drilling for natural gas onshore in the U.S. offset sluggish activity from the BP oil spill and just about everywhere else.

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GCN: How NOAA developed an inside view of the Gulf oil spill
NOAA was able to launch a Geospatial Platform on the Gulf oil spill largely by using existing resources. The platform allows the public to search and display data about a wide variety, including oil spill trajectories near the shore, Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Team results, Satellite interpretations for potential oil footprints, location of research and response vessels.

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Washington Post: Oil spill: Little political impact from spill predicted in 2010
It appears that if the spill does have a larger effect on politics, it will likely be felt in 2012 or 2016, not in 2010, according to pollsters. The issue is usually not mentioned in polling this year, and voters seem ambivalent about the disaster unless they are voting in Gulf coast states.

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Washington Times: Time to resume oil drilling
With our economy hobbled and unemployment stuck around 10 percent, the drilling ban cannot end soon enough. The Interior secretary’s happy talk aside, the moratorium is not over. President Obama’s drilling ban ends the day the first drill bit hits mud at the sea bottom, the Washington Times writes.

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NPR: Is Obama lifting the drilling ban too soon?
Some experts point out that it’s inaccurate to only look at drilling jobs that are being lost — it’s also important to note the potential losses that could result if the moratorium is lifted prematurely, NPR writes.

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Press release: Workers comp may be available for sick cleanup workers
Workers compensation may be available to cleanup workers who are now suffering the effects of working closely with the oil spill. Many workers have been reporting symptoms such as chest pains, dizziness, respiratory problems and other ill effects from exposure to the dispersants, as well as to the fumes and oil coming from the unprecedented oil spill.

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Press-Register: BP’s deep-cleaning Ala. beaches starts Monday
The next beach cleanup phase at Alabama’s beaches starts on Monday. BP’s cleanup crews begin an intense effort to remove lingering tar balls, tar mats and oil stains and restore the sugar-white sand. The target date for completion: Jan. 1, 2011.

Read more Food voucher program for commercial fishermen
The worst of times is here for commercial fishermen in Mississippi and Louisiana still struggling to feed their families after the BP oil spill. They’ll now have a little help getting food on the table with a new program called MarinersMatch that provides vouchers to families to spend at local farmers markets.

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Clarion Ledger: The BP oil well is plugged. Now what?
It will take time and patience in the coming years to study the effects of the Gulf oil spill, writes Denis Wiesenburg, vice president of research at the University of Southern Mississippi. The long-term effects of the Deepwater Horizon well blowout will not be known for decades. BP has committed $500 million to a ten-year environmental study. Long-term scientific data sets will be needed to separate natural ecosystem changes from those resulting from the spill. It’s a tough job, a long haul. And the oil spill will be haunting the Gulf coast and its people for a long time.

Read more


Video: Significant upswing in cancer expected after oil spill


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