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Third weekend of oil spill response begins

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Friday! The mission to drop a 100-ton concrete-and-steel box over a blown-out oil well on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico continues -- as does the federal response. Watch and manipulate the fantastic PBS NewsHour widget above to get a sense of how quickly oil is spilling into the waters.

As the oil spills, more than 10,000 government officials, BP staffers and volunteers are responding to the spill, using almost 270 vessels to respond. There are now 10 staging areas across the shoreline -- from Slidell, La. to Western Florida. Here's an updated agency-by-agency scorecard as the weekend begins -- and the barrels of oil keep spewing:

The agency's National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry are monitoring the spill and offering assistance as needed to lead federal agencies and impacted states and communities.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar traveled to Houston on Thursday for meetings with BP company officials. He also announced that no applications for offshore drilling permits will go forward until the department completes the safety review ordered by President Obama.

Two teams are in the Gulf monitoring the situation, while other park employees are supporting the response efforts across the coast.

The agency canceled a research team's mission to explore deep sea corals and they will instead collect seafloor and water column data from areas near the oil spill. The data will likely provide information on the presence of chemicals in ocean water and sediments.

The National Weather Service has established a special forecast Web site and agency aircraft are flying mammal survey missions and ocean imaging missions to get a sense of the thickness and density of the oil on the ocean surface.

Administrator Karen Mills said her agency will make low-interest loans available to small businesses in the Gulf Coast region that are suffering the economic impacts of the spill.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama will make a statement on the monthly jobs numbers with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer and Director of the National Economic Council Larry Summers by his side. Geithner and Hank Paulson support tighter regulations. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens casts a long shadow over the Supreme Court. Elena Kagan faced a dilemma at Harvard. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. defends the Justice Department's decision to read Miranda rights to Times Square attacker.

Census computer glitch could jeopardize count: Frequent glitches with the computer system built to manage the 2010 Census could jeopardize its accuracy and drive up costs beyond its $15 billion price tag, according to a new watchdog report.

Man sentenced for selling phony goods to military: The Saudi man was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for selling counterfeit computer parts to the Marine Corps.

Snubbed by Pentagon, Graham leads National Day of Prayer event at Capital: Evangelist Franklin Graham prayed briefly on a sidewalk outside the Pentagon Thursday morning, then moved to the Cannon House Office Building next to the U.S. Capitol.

Four journalists banned from Gitmo coverage for outing an interrogator: They published articles identifying a witness whose identity had been protected by the presiding judge even though it has been in the public domain since 2005.

FCC proposes rules on Internet access: Chairman Julius Genachowski said the agency would begin a process to reclassify broadband transmission service as a telecommunications service, subjecting the Internet to some of the same oversight as telephone services.

Who could best lead the GAO?: Government scholar Paul Light think three criteria should be at the fore.

Telework bill fails in the House; Senate delays action: Federal workers will have to wait a bit longer for the option to work from home, as the House failed to pass a bill that would have expanded telework options across the government.

Interior delays plans for Virginia offshore drilling: It is "temporarily postponing public meetings on potential offshore activities" so a review of offshore drilling safety issues requested by President Barack Obama could be considered at the meetings.

Mine safety sweep yields citations, closures: A five-day inspection blitz was in response to the April 5 explosion that killed 29 at Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.

NASA picks May 14 launch for Atlantis' last flight: The shuttle will fly to the International Space Station, carrying up a crew of six and a load of supplies.

Alliant sees NASA revamp easing: Potentially the biggest corporate loser in White House proposals to outsource large chunks of U.S. manned space exploration sought to signal Wall Street that most of the programs are likely to survive the revamping.

Postal Service profits, volume continue to drop: The mail agency lost $1.9 billion in the six months that ended March 31 and mail volume also dropped 6.3 percent vs. the same period in 2009.

U.S. facing 'grievous harm' from chemicals in air, food, water: The panel said Americans are facing "grievous harm" from chemicals in the air, food and water that have largely gone unregulated and ignored.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | May 7, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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We may never know the connection between campaign contributions and lack of oil drilling enforcement by the Obama administration. That will be capped better than the Gulf oil well. However, I seem to remember hearing even if we started drilling today, it would take ten years for a new well to come on line. Now we hear an alternative well to relieve pressure from the gusher will take 3 months. If we know were the oil is in other fields, doesn't that blow a big hole in the ten year theory?

Posted by: saelij | May 7, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

The Center for Responsive Politics ranks BP as one of the top donors to political campaigns over the twenty years having given in excess of $6 million to congressional and presidential campaigns. The ten biggest recipients of BP contributions still in Congress are Rep. Don Young ($73,300), Sen. John McCain ($44,899), Sen. George Voinovich ($41,400), Rep. John Dingell ($31,000), Sen. Mary Landrieu ($28,200), Rep. Joe Barton ($27,350), Sen. Jim Inhofe ($22,300), Sen. Mitch McConnell ($22,000), Rep. John Culberson ($20,950) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison ($19,500).

BP has focused a good portion of their campaign contributions on the House Committee on Energy & Commerce. The committee is scheduled to begin hearings on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Wednesday. Since 1989, BP has contributed a total of $195,550 to the current 51 members of the committee. Rep. Barton is the ranking member of the committee. Rep. Dingell is chairman emeritus and was recently deposed as chairman by Rep. Henry Waxman. Other top recipients include Rep. Ralph Hall ($14,500), Rep. Fred Upton ($13,100) and Rep. Roy Blunt ($12,500).

While BP made investments in Congress with their wide reach of contributions, some lawmakers made investments in BP. At least 17 lawmakers reported holding stock in BP in their most recent personal financial disclosure filings. Rep. James Sensenbrenner holds the largest amount of stock in BP with a value between $100,001 and $250,000. One member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, Rep. Upton, also holds stock in BP valued between $16,002 and $65,000.

The lobbying team assembled by BP also provides the company with reach into both Congress and executive branch. Twenty-five of the thirty-seven lobbyists listed in 2010 first quarter lobbying disclosures as being hired by BP have previous government experience. This includes two former top aides to Sen. Landrieu, a former aide to the Energy & Commerce Committee, former congressman Jim Turner and 15 others with congressional experience.

The former Energy & Commerce Committee staffer, Courtney Johnson, was listed as the host for two fundraisers over last year, according to the Party Time database. One was for Rep. Dingell, the former Energy & Commerce chairman. The other was for the political action committee of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a lawmaker close to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Prolific Democratic fundraiser Tony Podesta is listed as a lobbyist for BP. Podesta is listed as hosting eighteen fundraisers since the beginning of the 111th Congress.

Other congressman who have had held fundraisers hosted by lobbyists hired by BP since the beginning of 2009 include Rep. Walt Minnick, Sen. Jim Inhofe, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (twice), Rep. Barbara Lee, Sen. John Thune, Rep. Kay Granger, Sen. Richard Burr, Rep. Glenn Nye (twice) and Rep. Dennis Moore.

Posted by: francinelast | May 7, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Oil spills happen, both naturally and otherwise. We know this, and we have known this for many years. But we still need to drive our cars to work, and make plastic, and heat our homes. No one is willing to give that up, no matter how many dead manatees make it onto the news. And so any reactionary measures are likely to cause more harm than good. The best we can do is minimize oil spills by imposing rigorous standards of procedure, multiple layers of oversight, and trying to reduce overall consumption of oil as much as possible.

Here's what we have to gain from getting out of oil (Middle Eastern or otherwise): (1) no more dependence on decadent dictatorships - we can't really go around preaching peace and freedom when we're forced to publicly make out with crime lords, opium barons, and people who consider themselves living gods; (2) significantly reduced greenhouse gas pollution; (3) we can stop getting ripped off by OPEC; (4) we can avoid coming tensions with Russia, Canada, and Greenland over access to Arctic oil deposits; (5) the exorbitant prices our citizens pay to meet their daily energy needs will no longer line the pockets of speculators, currency manipulators, and day-traders; (6) we will have incentives to develop new energy technologies, which we can then market to the rest of the world.

Read more:

Posted by: ChristopherCarr | May 7, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

BP and Halliburton should pay $10+ Billion/year for however long it takes to repair this Disaster and restore Multi-Billion dollar Industries and the Lives and Livelihoods of everyone effected, from businesses to Shorefront Property Owners? Let's see who supports this and who fights against it.

GOP Drill-Baby-Drill Politicians defeated Safety Regulations Requiring Secondary Relief Wells, Remote Acoustic Triggers for Shut Off Valves, corrosion resistant Carbon Fiber Reinforced pipes, and High Quality Cement Sealing requirements; many of which are standard safety requirements in Canada, Brazil, and Norway.

BP and Halliburton have a long term history of Criminal Negligence that should result in Prosecutions, Convictions, and Hundreds of Billions for damages awarded to the United States.

Require Drillers to be Insured for Worst case Scenario ($50~100 Billion to start from the looks of this accident). If you cannot get insurance the way you are doing it now, or because you are using Halliburton Cost cutting low quality Cementing, then you shouldn't be in our waters. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund supported by industry fees should be raised from $1 Billion to $25 Billion.

Current Drillers should be subject to new Insurance and Safety Regulation requirements.
No more Oil Drilling exemptions from detailed Environmental Impact Studies.

BP’s after-tax profit in 2009 was about $17 billion, on revenues of about $245 billion. Halliburton’s was around $1.7 Billion.

When Multi-Billion dollar Industries and Natural Resources have been Killed off for Decades as a result of Criminal Negligence, how does an Oil Company making $17 Billion a year in profits pay for it?;

BP, Halliburton and partners should Pay $10~16 Billion a year for however long it takes to Restore the Industries and Environment Destroyed.

Posted by: liveride | May 7, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

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