Gulf Coast oil spill: Day 34 update
It's been 34 days since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The Obama administration and national press corps are refocusing their attention on the federal response this week with a series of visits, statements and actions. Here are highlights from this past weekend and the week ahead:
• President Obama will participate in the daily call to Gulf State governors on Monday, and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen is scheduled to join White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today at the daily press briefing. As Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer both plan to take their national newscasts to the region tonight, it's clear the White House will continue to push back hard against suggestions it's not responding well enough. (And Obama gets better energy images later this week in California.)
• Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will lead a bipartisan Congressional delegation to Louisiana on Monday. They'll be joined by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and David Vitter (R-La.).
• Salazar said Sunday that the U.S. government will move aside BP from the operation if it decides the company is not performing as required. "I am angry and I am frustrated that BP has been unable to stop this oil from leaking and to stop the pollution from spreading," Salazar told reporters after visiting BP's offices in Houston.
• Despite Salazar's words, Coast Guard Commandant Allen defended the government’s relationship with BP on Sunday. "It's really a collaboration, including the rest of the oil industry as well,” Allen told CNN’s “State of the Union.” Allen also said that “I've got [BP CEO] Tony Hayward's personal cell phone number. If I have a problem, I call him. Some of the problems we have had that we've worked through are more logistics and coordination issues.”
• Crude gushing into the Gulf is exposing how ill-prepared the U.S. has been to respond to a major offshore oil spill, the Wall Street Journal reports. "Some scientists researching the spill don't have the right instruments to measure the spill or to study its impact. Maps that federal officials are using to identify priority areas to protect from spreading oil are outdated. And the Coast Guard says the country lacks enough plastic piping, or "boom," to keep the incoming oil away from the coast." Not good.
• Since Obama announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore oil wells, at least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted, according to the New York Times. "Department of the Interior officials said in a statement that the moratorium was meant only to halt permits for the drilling of new wells. It was not meant to stop permits for new work on existing drilling projects like the Deepwater Horizon. But critics say the moratorium has been violated or too narrowly defined to prevent another disaster."
• NOAA has delayed the release of its 2010 Atlantic Hurricane season outlook. It initially planned to release it last week in Miami, but will instead hold a press conference on Friday in Washington.
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• Cabinet and Staff News: In case you missed it, President Obama unveiled a new national security strategy on Saturday. He also appointed former Florida senator Bob Graham (D) and former EPA administrator William K. Reilly to head an independent probe of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Obama meets with Defense Secretary Robert Gates in the Oval Office today. Could Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton replace Gates at the Pentagon? In the meantime, Clinton tours the World's Fair in Shanghai while a van carrying Bill Clinton involved in an accident. National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair's resignation may reflect inherent conflicts in job of intelligence chief while James R. Clapper Jr. is the leading candidate to replace him. James Cole nominated for No. 2 job at Justice Department. Do Supreme Court justice use Twitter? Some personnel changes at GSA and Interior Dept. The Post's Robin Givhan says Elena Kagan's look is "tidy and conservative but with a generous sprinkling of frumpiness."
• Dispute over Census questions ends in Calif. woman's death: Officials in South Yuba City, Calif., said that a census taker was confronted by a man who pointed a firearm at the worker and said he would not answer questions.
• Lawmakers divided on 'don't ask, don't tell' as votes near: Key votes pending in Congress this week on whether to repeal the military's gay ban remain too close to call, advocates on both sides say.
• Results of Kandahar offensive may affect future U.S. moves: The Obama administration's campaign to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan's second-largest city is a go-for-broke move that even its authors are unsure will succeed.
• Lack of prosecution poses challenge for foreign navies that catch Somali pirates: Catching the pirates has been the easy part. Finding a place to hold them has proved far more complicated.
FEDERAL PROTECTIVE SERVICE:
• No penalty for federal credit-card misuse: An investigation that found thousands of dollars in unauthorized purchases of clothing, gold coins, flat-screen televisions, gym memberships and college tuition payments by agency employees has resulted in no disciplinary action.
• FDA considers endorsement of drug that some call a Viagra for women: A panel of federal advisers will soon wrestle with a question that has bedeviled poets, philosophers and generations of frustrated men: What do women want?
• Judiciary chairman holds up Senate telework bill: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has put a hold on the Senate telework bill because of a dispute over a provision related to the Patent and Trademark Office.
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE:
• IRS may get access to TSP accounts of tax-delinquent feds: A new Justice Department ruling apparently paves the way for the IRS to seize funds from the Thrift Savings Plan accounts of tax-delinquent federal employees, retirees and military service members.
OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY:
• Some say government's new strategy to fight drug addiction needs more funding: For the first time, the federal government has set a goal of reducing diseases and deaths caused by drug addiction, as well as the number of American teenagers and adults who use illegal substances.
• Traffic paint shortage threatens roadwork: The shortage has left road crews and transportation departments without the paint they need to separate northbound and southbound traffic.
• Treasury picks adviser for General Motors IPO: The department signed a deal with Lazard Freres & Co. last Monday but didn't reveal it until Friday.
• $7.85 million for U.S. coin, and extra for a stamp: The coin, believed by some experts to be the very first United States dollar ever minted, was sold to a nonprofit educational group for $7.85 million, a world record for any coin.
| May 24, 2010; 7:10 AM ET
Categories: Eye Opener
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