The Deepwater Horizon disaster keeps spilling into my inbox, more than 1,300 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, where there's "oil for miles and miles," Attorney General Eric Holder lamented yesterday in New Orleans.
Denver is more than 1,300 miles from the Big Easy, but the disaster has spilled into this state, too, with pundits beginning to call for the head of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a man whose family took such care of their Colorado farmland for five generations -- but who hasn't yet found his sea legs.
Salazar -- who has to be wondering why he gave up his safe Senate seat for this -- will survive this mess, although the coastline of Louisiana may not. After all, the Interior's Mineral Management Services division, whose idea of overseeing oil companies meant serving their execs sex and blow, was a mess long before Salazar came on the scene, as Alan Prendergast has documented in story after story. (Here's just one of them.)
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But Salazar, who billed himself as the "new sheriff in town" when he took the Interior job, may need to make some arrests soon -- and with the Obama administration announcing that it's launched a criminal investigation into the explosion, there will be plenty of suspects.
Below, a sample of the daily updates on the disaster:
The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill
Prepared by the Joint Information Center
UPDATED June 1, 2010 7:30 PM CDT
PAST 24 HOURS
The President Meets with BP Oil Spill Commission Co-Chairs
President Obama met with former U.S. Senator Bob Graham of Florida and former EPA Administrator Bill Reilly, who last week he named co-chairs to lead the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.
Following the meeting, the President said their job is to "thoroughly examine the spill and its causes, so that we never face such a catastrophe again."
The President signed an executive order establishing the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling to take a comprehensive look at how the oil and gas industry operates and how we regulate them. It will consider both the root causes of the disaster and offer options on what safety and environmental precautions we need to take to prevent a similar disaster from happening again, and will issue a report within six months.
EPA Administrator Meets with Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board
Administrator Jackson continued her fourth trip to the Gulf Coast, joining representatives from NOAA to meet with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board today to discuss the impacts of the BP oil spill on the commercial seafood industry. She also met with responders and officials overseeing shoreline cleanup work in Houma, La., to discuss vital marsh assessment and cleanup activities.
Admiral Allen Provides Operational Update for Unified Area Command
National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen delivered the first of his daily briefings to inform the American public and answer questions on the progress of the administration-wide response to the BP oil spill at the Port of New Orleans. A transcript is available here.
Attorney General Holder Makes Initial Visit to the Gulf Coast
Attorney General Eric Holder visited Louisiana to meet with personnel working to mitigate the spill's impacts on vital shorelines and coordinate the administration's legal response to the BP oil spill. Department of Justice representatives also met with Attorneys General and U.S. Attorneys for the states and districts whose coastlines and citizens have been impacted by oil from the spill.
Attorney General Holder said that while stopping the leak, containing and cleaning up the oil, and helping people in the region who have suffered financial loss remains the government's top priority, "we must also ensure that anyone found responsible for this spill is held accountable. That means enforcing the appropriate civil--and if warranted, criminal--authorities to the full extent of the law."
Since the early stages of the response efforts, Justice Department attorneys have been in the Gulf to gather facts--including reviewing the Clean Water Act, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Migratory Bird Treaty and Endangered Species Acts, and other criminal statutes.
Gulf Fishing Restrictions Expanded; More than 68 Percent Remains Open
NOAA has extended the northern and southern boundaries of the closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico to include portions of the slick moving into waters off eastern Alabama and the western tip of the Florida panhandle, as well as some large patches of sheen moving onto the west Florida shelf and southward to Cuban waters--this federal closure does not apply to any state waters. Closing fishing in these areas is a precautionary measure to ensure that seafood from the Gulf will remain safe for consumers.
The closed area now represents 75,920 square miles, which is slightly more than 31 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters. This leaves more than 68 percent of Gulf federal waters available for fishing. Details can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov.
Property Damage Claims Processed
The administration will continue to hold the responsible parties accountable for repairing the damage, and repaying Americans who've suffered a financial loss as a result of the BP oil spill. BP reports that 31,010 claims have been opened, from which $39.4 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are more than 496 claims adjusters on the ground. To file a claim, visit www.bp.com/claims or call BP's helpline at 1-800-440-0858. Those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP's resolution can call the Coast Guard at (800) 280-7118.
SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Approved for Louisiana
The Small Business Administration has approved 33 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling $1,192,300, for small businesses in Louisiana impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 158 existing SBA disaster loans in the Gulf Coast region. For information on assistance loans for affected businesses, visit the SBA's Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance, call (800) 659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOAA, Coast Guard and EPA Join St. Tammany Parish Community Forum
Representatives from NOAA, the Coast Guard and the EPA participated today in a community forum in St. Tammany Parish, La.--organized by Sea Grant and Louisiana State University. Sea Grant is a nationwide network, administered by NOAA, comprised of 32 university-based programs that work with coastal communities.
By the Numbers to Date:
* The administration has authorized 17,500 National Guard troops from Gulf Coast states to participate in the response to the BP oil spill.
* More than 20,000 personnel are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife and cleanup vital coastlines.
* More than 1,700 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts--in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.
* Approximately 1.96 million feet of containment boom and 2 million feet of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill--and approximately 620,000 feet of containment boom and 1.8 million feet of sorbent boom are available.
* Approximately 13.8 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
* Approximately 980,000 gallons of total dispersant have been deployed--755,000 on the surface and 225,000 subsea. More than 420,000 gallons are available.
* More than 120 controlled burns have been conducted, efficiently removing a total of more than 2.8 gallons of oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife.
* 17 staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines, including: Dauphin Island, Ala., Orange Beach, Ala., Theodore, Ala., Panama City, Fla., Pensacola, Fla., Port St. Joe, Fla., St. Marks, Fla., Amelia, La., Cocodrie, La., Grand Isle, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., St. Mary, La.; Venice, La., Biloxi, Miss., Pascagoula, Miss., and Pass Christian, Miss.
* For information about the response effort, visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com. * For specific information about the federal-wide response, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/deepwater-bp-oil-spill. * To contact the Deepwater Horizon Joint Information Center, call (985) 902-5231.To volunteer, or to report oiled shoreline, call (866) 448-5816. Volunteer opportunities can also be found here. * To submit your vessel as a vessel of opportunity skimming system, or to submit alternative response technology, services, or products, call 281-366-5511 * To report oiled wildlife, call (866) 557-1401. Messages will be checked hourly. * For information about validated environmental air and water sampling results, visit www.epa.gov/bpspill. * For National Park Service updates about potential park closures, resources at risk, and NPS actions to protect vital park space and wildlife, visit http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/oil-spill-response.htm. * For Fish and Wildlife Service updates about response along the Gulf Coast and the status of national wildlife refuges, visit http://www.fws.gov/home/dhoilspill/. * For daily updates on fishing closures, visit http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov. * For information on assistance loans for affected businesses, visit the SBA's Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance, call (800) 659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or email email@example.com. * To file a claim with BP, visit www.bp.com/claims or call BP's helpline at (800) 440-0858. A BP fact sheet with additional information is available here. Those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP's resolution, can call the Coast Guard at (800) 280-7118. More information about what types of damages are eligible for compensation under the Oil Pollution Act as well as guidance on procedures to seek that compensation can be found here.