"It is an overlooked danger in oil spill crisis: The crude gushing from the well contains vast amounts of natural gas that could pose a serious threat to the Gulf of Mexico's fragile ecosystem."
"Nearly 30 members of the congressional committees overseeing oil and gas companies held personal assets in the industry totaling $9 million to $14.5 million late last year. That included at least $400,000 in the three companies at the heart of the Gulf of Mexico oil-drilling disaster, according to a Washington Post analysis of financial disclosure forms released Wednesday."
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) turned a hearing with BP CEO Tony Hayward on its head Thursday by apologizing to BP for what he called a "$20 billion shakedown." Democrats made political hay. Republicans scrambled to distance themselves. Under threat from GOP leaders of losing his job as top House Energy Republican, Barton returned to the hearing to apologize for apologizing. It later emerged that Barton's "shakedown" talking point had been crafted by the Republican Study Committee, a conservative faction that includes 115 of the 178 GOP House members. Barton got more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from the oil industry during this election cycle -- and his top single corporate contributor is Anadarko, which is a 25% stakeholder in the gushing Macondo well. Hayward, while apologetic himself, dodged the panel's questions.
"As arguments rage over how to clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, an examination of toxicity tests reveals flaws in the data used to determine the safety of dispersants."
Petrochemical companies like BP won a key battle in achieving unpoliced self-regulation early in the Bush administration -- when they got friends in Congress and the White House to shut EPA out of chemical safety and security oversight. As public health advocates point to possible disasters more lethal than the Gulf spill, there may be an opportunity to reverse the federal government's decisions not to protect the public from petrochemical disasters.
Despite a huge and detailed hearing and investigative record of BP corner-cutting on well-control and safety operations leading up to the Gulf blowout, explosion, and spill, BP's Tony Hayward is poised to tell a Congressional committee today that he has no idea why it happened. The interrogation may be harsh.
"Dolphins and sharks are showing up in surprisingly shallow water just off the Florida coast. Mullets, crabs, rays and small fish congregate by the thousands off an Alabama pier. Birds covered in oil are crawling deep into marshes, never to be seen again."
Promises from BP and the Coast Guard of improved news media access to Gulf spill operations have done little to curtail the obstacles and intimidations journalists face trying to cover the story. Now a top AP editor has asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs for help.
"Under intense pressure from President Barack Obama, BP Plc agreed on Wednesday to set up a $20 billion fund for damage claims from its huge Gulf of Mexico oil spill and suspended dividend payments to its shareholders."
WDSU, the NBC affiliate in New Orleans (Channel 6), found that BP's highly publicized statement that it is not barring news media from witnessing the cleanup, or its failure, is in fact not true. See video of this and other examples, and get contact info for the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center if you've been denied access.