June 17th, 2010
12:02 PM ET

Day 59: Gulf oil disaster developments

[Updated at 10:49 p.m.] Here are the latest developments on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which unfolded after an April 20 explosion aboard the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon:

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

- Rep. Bart Stupak closed a hearing on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico - held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations - by telling BP CEO Tony Hayward, "I think the evasiveness of your answers only served to increase the frustration, not decrease the frustration, not just of members of Congress, but that of the American people."

- During the hearing Hayward said, "There are no suggestions I have seen so far that anyone put cost ahead of safety." Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia fired back: "With all due respect, Mr. Hayward, I think you're copping
out."

- After Hayward testified that some oil samples in the Gulf were related to the Deepwater Horizon leak while others were not, and he avoided directly answering a question about whether there were plumes in the water, Democratic Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said: "Your testimony continues to be at
odds to all independent scientists."

- Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa is demanding to know if BP knew the Deepwater Horizon well could be gushing as much as 60,000 barrels of
oil a day, and failed to inform the public. A team of government and independent scientists announced Tuesday that the flow rate might be as high as 60,000 barrels a day, but Grassley believes BP may have known sooner. A BP document provided to the senator says "an absolute worst case flow rate of 60,000 barrels a day was calculated." The document does not have a date.

- BP claimed it was not government regulators' practice to follow regulations on blowout preventers, according to a June 16 letter from Sen. Charles Grassley obtained by CNN.

- Police arrested Diane Wilson of the activist group Code Pink, accusing her of disrupting the congressional hearing Thursday just as Hayward was beginning his testimony. "You need to go to jail," she shouted. She has been charged with unlawful conduct for disrupting Congress.

- Six in 10 Americans disapprove of how Obama's handling the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a jump from last month, according to a new national poll. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey also indicated that a vast majority of the public disapproves of how BP has handled the environmental disaster and two-thirds say making a profit rather than cleaning up the spill is oil giant's top priority.

- The latest wildlife report said 629 oiled birds have been recovered alive while 829 were found dead and 103 sea turtles were recovered alive while 358 were found dead.

CLEANUP

- BP said it captured about 14,750 barrels or 619,500 gallons of oil from the Gulf on Wednesday. A dual collection system that was put into place this week has now siphoned off a total of 179,000 barrels or 7.5 million gallons.

- The drilling of two relief wells has reached depths of 15,226 feet and 9,778 feet respectively but they are not expected to be completed until August, according to BP.

PAYMENT

- BP has agreed to place $20 billion in an escrow fund to help compensate those affected by the oil disaster. The fund "will not supersede individuals' or states' rights to present claims in court," President Obama said. BP, he asserted, will remain liable for the environmental disaster in the Gulf.

- BP has agreed to create a $100 million fund for the purpose of compensating oil rig workers now unemployed as a result of closure of other deepwater rigs after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion, Obama said.

- The judge BP wants to hear an estimated 200 lawsuits over the oil disaster gets tens of thousands of dollars a year in oil royalties and paid travel to industry conferences, financial disclosure forms show. Lawyers who practice before U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes say he's tough but fair, and a CNN review of his cases found he ruled in favor of oil companies only slightly more often than he ruled against them.

POLITICS

- Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas retracted his apology to BP on Thursday and issued his own apology for calling the $20 billion damage fund created by the oil giant a "shakedown."

- Barton had been told by House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, to "apologize immediately" or lose his position on the committee, according to a senior House GOP leadership aide.

- The retraction came after the White House pounced on Barton's comment. A statement from spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction."

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. CS

    I don't think our own politicians really care to know the truth. In today's hearing, at one point, one female US Representative asked BP's CEO if there was a technical person with him at the hearings, since the CEO himself seemed so ignorant to answer dozens of technical queries. The CEO answered "yes." Surprisingly, our representatives continued to ask the dumb CEO many more technical questions instead of directing them to that other qualified guy! This proves beyond doubt that our politicians were not interested in answers! They only wanted circus and publicity for themselves!

    June 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rodney

    CS. I agree. Remember, on March 23, 2005, a fire and explosion occurred at BP's refinery in Texas, killing 15 workers and injuring more than 170 others. The politicians have put that event and any possible lessons long behind them.

    June 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • CS

      Rodney. Today we have proof that the entire hearing is a shenanigan and our country is a leaderless orphan! Just about every elected body cares for putting a face on TV for the show, and nothing more!

      June 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jacque

    Rodney... I agree w/you 1,000%. CNN is so complicit in spinning the message for BP. I think we should all boycott cable for a week, and if they do not begin reporting facts, boycott them for 2 weeks and on and on. I am a fact checker on pretty much every poll they announce and I have discovered they totally misrepresent the facts. I haven't as yet checked the one they're touting today, but I will. And I can tell you John King was pushing an eroneous poll that I fact checked only for me to learn that when they use language like : Majority of Americansans and 52% of Americans disapprove of the President... and then upon a deeper check only 1,044 people were contacted across the entire country by landlines and cell phones... I sent a scathing message to CNN asking what kind of math are they using? 300 million or more people in this country, they CLAIM to poll 1,044 and then use language like MOST OR MAJORITY AMERICANS. You must fact check all poll claims coming out of CNN: esp. Quinnepiac, USA Today/CNN, all of them are lies. and the data from the polls are easily verified by simply googling the org that supposedly conducted the poll. I also agree with you these pollsters are making this data up. The Puppet Masters (Dick Cheney and company) have purhased the media and it is very apparent. The media have become so bold that obvious lies are constantly being pushed out there as if the media operates in some alternate universe. The interesting optics of watching Andersen 360 w/that amazing wide load of a man.. Nungesser... in a pristine shirt every night complaining re the Govt response.. This coming from a "backwoods bigot" anti environmentalist, anti big govt and get govt out of my life... on a daily basis complains about what Govt is not doing. THIS IS LUDICROUS. It makes you wonder what the media has been able to get away with before the age of Pres. Obama. Democracy? I don't think so... CNN HAS BECOME A DANGEROUS MEDIUM FOR INFORMATION. IT IS ALL ABOUT ANTI-OBAMA AND FORGET ABOUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Anyone that pulls the lever for a republican after this spectacle is insane... they could give a flying fig about the American people.

    June 17, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. fiverrules

    Where's that Belgian Company with tanker/skimmers that can clean the gulf in 4 months. They offered help about 50 days ago...... Intellect is the collection of knowledge and facts. Intelligence is the ability to apply that knowledge to the real world. Vision without a plan and only a drive to completion creates division and chaos. Vision with a plan and a leader promote progress. Obama is the former on both concepts when we need to latter.

    June 18, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Roland Selig

    I live in Louisiana. The site of the greatest devastation associated with the oil problem. You must understand there are two disasters.

    First, one the oil leak which is clearly BP's responsibility. BP is at fault of not providing a safe working platform and broke many, many procedures, standards and policies dealing with drilling offshore. They were supposed to be overseen by the federal government which failed miserably. They were in bed with the oil company.

    Secondly, the cleanup effort is clearly the responsibility of Obama. It took two months for Obama to even talk to BP. He and his coalition have done NOTHING but put up road blocks on all state efforts to prevent oil in the marsh. He should have set up camp on the coast and Kicked the Coast Guard's and EPA's Asses to accomplish cleanup and stop the oil from propagating further into the marsh. There should be cooperation between BP and the federal government to stop the leak and facilitate cleanup. See the below example:

    "BARATARIA BASIN, La. - It was a frustrating morning for Gov. Bobby Jindal, who personally made sure the state’s vacuum barges were back out in the marsh sucking up BP oil. The Coast Guard shut down the highly successful vacuum operation to inspect the vessels on Wednesday, and state leaders are now complaining the Coast Guard is getting in the way of the oil spill response.

    The state’s fleet of 16 vacuum barges went back to work Thursday afternoon. The Louisiana National Guard-designed vessels can now suck up about 4000 gallons of oil every 90 minutes. Despite their success at cleaning up BP polluted wetlands like Bay Jimmy, located in the Barataria Basin between Grand Isle and lower Lafitte, the Coast Guard shut down their operation for more than a day.

    Jindal traveled to Empire on Thursday only to find eight barges still tied up at the marina. “What's so frustrating is the stories kept changing,” Jindal said. “Yesterday morning, they said we're shutting down. Then, they can't find the boats to go out and inspect. They didn't realize that they'd approved them already.” Coast Guard Commander Dan Laur said the vessels needed safety inspections." by Paul Murphy – WWL Channel 4 (CBS) (excerpt)

    Now the congress has gotten in to the flay. They have no idea what a CEO's does or his involvement in daily operations. They can beat him to a pulp and have not solved anything in the process. They should spend their time and efforts in looking at what can be done to keep the oil off the coast and methods of facilitating those working to remove the oil. The dumb lawyers we have all need to go. November can't come soon enough.

    June 18, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John

    Diane Wilson should not be the one in jail escorted out yes, but if anyone should be in jail it is the lying executives of BP .

    June 18, 2010 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
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