The U.S. government will block oil giant BP from new government contracts over its "lack of business integrity" stemming from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.
The decision follows the London-based company's agreement November 15 to plead guilty to criminal charges including manslaughter, obstruction of Congress and environmental violations related to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and subsequent release of about 205 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.FULL STORY
[Updated at 2:39 p.m. ET] Attorney General Eric Holder says that three BP officials were indicted on criminal charges in connection with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The news comes on a day when BP pleaded guilty to 14 criminal charges, including a dozen felony charges, stemming from the oil spill, and that the company agreed to pay $4 billion in fines and penalties.
[Updated at 11:30 a.m. ET] BP, Transocean and Halliburton all share responsibility for the deadly explosion that resulted in the April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, according to the final federal report on the matter released Wednesday.
The three companies "violated a number of federal offshore safety regulations," according to the report, which includes a series of recommendations for improving drilling safety.
An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig led to more than 200 million gallons of oil being released into the Gulf. Eleven people working on the rig died in the explosion, while 16 others were injured.
Besides the oil, hundreds of thousands of gallons of chemical dispersant went into the water. At the peak of the crisis, in June 2010, 37% of Gulf waters - a total of 88,522 square miles - were closed to fishing due to contamination.FULL STORY
As another candidate throws his hat into the ring, remember that CNN.com Live is your home for the 2012 presidential election!
Today's programming highlights...
8:30 am ET - Casey Anthony trial - Testimony resumes in the trial of Casey Anthony, the Florida woman accused of killing her young daughter.
The U.S. ambassador to Malta and former legal aide to President Ronald Reagan resigned Saturday following a State Department report that his devotion to his religion was hindering his ability to do his job. In 2008, Kmiec, a devout Catholic, was publicly denied communion from his own priest for his support of Barack Obama in the2008 presidential election. Kmiec told CNN that he resigned, and was not pushed out of his position.
The Rand, Louisiana, mother of six, who is married to a Gulf oil worker, will protest at BP's Washington offices today to call attention to unresolved cleanup and compensation issues in that region from the 2010 oil spill. Foytlin walked 34 days and 1,243 miles from New Orleans to the capital last week, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. She claims that oil continues to wash ashore and Gulf residents are suffering from breathing in fumes from oil and dispersants. Her family took blood tests which she says show high levels toxins also found in crude, the New Orleans newspaper said. The compensation fund is not providing fair settlements to many Gulf residents, Foytlin said, and her family is in financial ruin. See CNN's coverage of the Gulf oil spill, one year later.
The former New York Times columnist shocked many when he resigned earlier this year from the newspaper. The Poynter Institute, a journalism think-tank, as well as New York Magazine, report that Rich has launched a second career as producer of the upcoming HBO comedy series "Veep." The program about the first female vice president will star Julia Louis-Dreyfus of "Seinfeld" fame.
Several "specific and preventable human and engineering failures were the immediate causes" of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster last year, the presidentially appointed Oil Spill Commission said in its much-awaited report Tuesday .
The event "was almost the inevitable result of years of industry and government complacency and lack of attention to safety. This was indisputably the case with BP, Transocean, and Halliburton, as well as the government agency charged with regulating offshore drilling - the former Minerals Management Service," said commission co-chairman William K. Reilly.
"As drilling pushes into ever deeper and riskier waters where more of America's oil lies, only systemic reforms of both government and industry will prevent a similar, future disaster."
The report, "Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling," proposed "comprehensive" government and industry actions "to overhaul the U.S. approach to drilling safety and greatly reduce the chances of a similar, large scale disaster in the future."
Is 2010 the year America was exposed?
That's what The New Republic suggests in its latest issue, whose cover depicts Lady Liberty as she might appear to Transportation Security Administration agents if she were to pass through a body scanner in one of America's airports.
OnÂ the body scanner controversy, journalist Jeffrey Rosen writes that "protecting privacy isnâ€™t something that the U.S. government has ever done well,"Â compared with European counterparts, because U.S. privacy offices lack independence and regulatory mettle.
"And, while the Department of Homeland Securityâ€™s privacy office has broader legal authorities than most, it nevertheless failed to raise the obvious objections to the body scanners. That suggests the government needs a genuinely independent institution dedicated to protecting Americansâ€™ privacy in order to avoid similar debacles in the future," Rosen writes.
And it's not just body scanners. Changes in Facebook's online privacyÂ policy made users' personal profiles more vulnerable to public viewing, causing us to reexamine our notions of privacy.Â Google Street ViewsÂ opened up our homes to anyone with a Web browser. And in corporate America, the Gulf Coast oil spill exposed BP's questionable maintenance practices and apparent inability to control such a spill.
What do you think? Was 2010 a turning point for privacy rights in America? Or just another year of passing tides? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
BP's former CEO has won a couple yachting trophies in his day. But displaying his latest trophy probably won't fly with him.
According to the Center: "Under Hayward's leadership, BP secured the right to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico by submitting documents to the U.S. government falsely claiming that a major spill could not happen. It also submitted a false and ludicrous spill-response plan claiming it could capture spilling oil before the oil caused any environmental or economic damage."
BP Products North America Inc. has agreed to pay a $15 million penalty to resolve federal Clean Air Act violations relating to two fires and a leak at its Texas City, Texas, oil refinery, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department said Thursday.
The fires - in March 2004 and July 2005 - and the leak in August 2005 released thousands of pounds of flammable and toxic air pollutants, the EPA said.
The violations were identified during investigations after a separate incident - a March 2005 explosion and fire that killed 15 people and injured more than 170 others, the EPA said.
U.S. officials formally declared an end to the worst oil spill in U.S. history Sunday, a milestone that followed nearly five months of dashed hopes and blistering criticism of nearly everyone involved.
Well owner BP began final cementing operations to permanently plug the blowout on Friday. Pressure tests conducted early Sunday confirmed the cement was holding, and the Interior Department agency that regulates offshore drilling pronounced the well dead at 5:54 a.m. (6:54 a.m. ET), former Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said in a statement issued Sunday morning.
Outgoing BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward denied Wednesday that cost-saving was the reason his company put only one blowout preventer on the well that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April, leading to one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history.
"There was no decision of that sort that was taken to save money," he said.
He said the blowout preventer that failed "should have functioned" and the industry needs to understand why it did not.
If it had worked as it was designed to, the consequences of the April explosion on the Deepwater Horizon "could have been very different," said top BP executive Bernard Looney.
Hayward insisted that the company encourages staff to speak up, saying BP focused on "creating the right environment so that people feel they can raise their hand and speak up with respect to safety."
The BP executives were testifying before a British parliamentary committee investigating the implications of the Gulf oil disaster on deepwater drilling.
Tea Party victories – The Tea Party movement basked in the glow of victory Wednesday after its favorites won two primary elections the night before over more mainstream Republicans, demonstrating again the clout of the political right.
Now the question is whether the right-wing candidates can also defeat Democratic rivals in November's congressional elections, when the stakes are higher and the full electorate is deciding.Â The result highlighted the last major day of primary voting before the upcoming election in just under seven weeks. We take a look at the result and impact of the big races in Delaware, New Hampshire, Washington, D.C. and New York, as well as why the wins meant a big night for Sarah Palin.
The Justice Department expects to sue BP for damages from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, according to a filing made Monday night with the U.S. District Court in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Justice Department attorneys told the court it might seek claims under the Oil Pollution Act, which was enacted in 1990 after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, and the Clean Water Act, which gives the government the right to seek potentially huge penalties.
– From CNN's Alan Chenoff
[Updated at 3:08 p.m.] BP released the findings of its internal investigation Wednesday into the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. Some highlights from the report and reaction to it:
- Cement contractor Halliburton said in a statement that it has noticed "a number of substantial omissions and inaccuracies" in the BP report.
– "Halliburton remains confident that all the work it performed with respect to the Macondo well was completed in accordance with BP's specifications for its well construction plan and instructions, and that it is fully indemnified under its contract for any of the allegations contained in the report." the company said.
– "Deepwater operations are inherently complex and a number of contractors are involved which routinely make recommendations to a single point of contact, the well owner." Halliburton said. "The well owner is responsible for designing the well program and any testing related to the well. Contractors do not specify well design or make decisions regarding testing procedures as that responsibility lies with the well owner."
– "I wouldn't want to comment on the timing or what the intent was of the BP report," said retired Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man for the response to the disaster. "I would just say the more we know about this event in general, the better off we are." He said the report will add to a larger body of evidence that won't be complete until the joint investigation by the Interior Department and other investigations are finished, "but it's not the end-all be-all that's going to have to be done to address the issues associated with this event, why it happened and what needs to happen in the future."
Islamic center imam speaks – The imam at the center of the controversy over an Islamic center near New York's ground zero is speaking out as a broad coalition of Christian, Jewish and Islamic leaders this week denounced what they described as a rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry across the United States.
CNN's Soledad O'Brien has an exclusive interview with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf on "Larry King Live" at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday. Submit questions for the imam via iReport here.
Scientists have found a decline in oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill but have found no "dead zones" as a result, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reported Tuesday.
Levels of dissolved oxygen in deep water have dropped about 20 percent below their long-term average, according to data collected from up to 60 miles from the well at the center of the massive oil spill. But much of that dip appears to be the result of microbes using oxygen to dissolve oil underwater, and the decline is not enough to be fatal to marine life, said Steve Murawski, the head of a NOAA-led group examining the spill's impact.
"Even the lowest observations in all of these was substantially above the threshold," Murawski said.
Crews removed the cap from BP's ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well late Thursday afternoon, a company spokeswoman said, an important step toward permanently sealing the well.
The operation was the first step in removing the blowout preventer, said BP spokeswoman Jessie Baker. That device failed spectacularly in April, triggering a deadly explosion and oil spill.
Officials planned to replace the blowout preventer with a new one, a major step toward a final fix.
The cap removal was "an important step in the process to remove and preserve the damaged BOP [blowout preventer]," said retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man on the oil disaster. He said work on removing the damaged blowout preventer was expected to commence Thursday night.
Hurricane Earl – With North Carolina's Outer BanksÂ in its sights, large and powerful Hurricane Earl prepared Thursday to take a swipe at the Eastern Seaboard. Hurricane warnings and watches stretched from North Carolina to Delaware as well as coveringÂ parts of Massachusetts.
President Obama signed a disaster declaration for North Carolina on Wednesday evening. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley also signed an emergency declaration earlier Wednesday. Hurricane models have the Category 4 storm passing close to the Outer Banks on Thursday night, the National Hurricane Center said. Check out the projected path, pictures, and video
T.I., wife arrested – Police arrested rapper T.I. and his wife in California after they were allegedly found in possession of a controlled substance. The couple was arrested late Wednesday during a traffic stop in Los Angeles, according to a police report.
It has been an interesting week to say the least regarding the Gulf oil disaster. I watched the headlines respond to the decidedly rosy perspective of the feds and BP that only last week claimed that the worst was behind us and that most of the oil has been cleaned up or naturally dissipated.
As many of us warned, those predictions were premature at best, and this week, new science is emerging that suggests this is only the end of the beginning. The whole debacle reminds me of the Aesop's Fable of the tortoise and the hare. You know, the one where the arrogant hare who can easily outrun the tortoise ends up losing the race because, confident he will outrun the tortoise, he takes a nap, oversleeps and loses.
Attributed to a Greek slave who lived in the mid-sixth century BC in ancient Greece, this fable is one of hundreds that have stood the test of time. They have been translated throughout the millennia into countless languages and still hold true today.