October 12th, 2010
01:20 PM ET

Obama administration lifts deepwater drilling moratorium

The Obama administration is lifting the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling that was put in place after the Gulf oil disaster, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday.

Salazar and the new head of the government agency overseeing offshore drilling, Michael Bromwich, were scheduled to hold a 1 p.m.
news conference on the issue.

Salazar suspended certain deepwater drilling activities on July 12 under the premise that certain deepwater drilling posed a threat to the marine, coastal, and human environment.

Since then, Salazar has determined that deepwater oil and gas drilling can resume provided that operators certify compliance with all existing rules and requirements, including those that recently went into effect, the Department of Interior said in a press release.

Members of industry must also demonstrate the availability of adequate blowout containment resources, the department said.


October 7th, 2010
10:15 AM ET

On the Radar: Gay student leader, Afghan war, oil spill

Student under fire by blogger speaks out - Chris Armstrong, the University of Michigan's first openly gay student body president, said the recent rash of headlines about gay teens who have committed suicide led him to break his silence about his own hurtful experience of being targeted online and in high school.

For months, Armstrong has been the subject of the blog "Chris Armstrong Watch," which Andrew Shirvell, a lawyer in the Michigan attorney general's office, publishes. Shirvell and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox have both maintained that the blog is Shirvell's personal project and that it's done during nonwork hours without any official resources. Shirvell, a graduate of the university, has taken issue with what he calls Armstrong's "radical homosexual agenda."

Nine years in Afghanistan - U.S. intelligence operators were some of the first Americans in Afghanistan when the war started in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Their mission was clear get Osama bin Laden and stop the Taliban.

Nine years later, CNN takes a look at what the endgame is for covert operations in the war.


October 6th, 2010
12:05 PM ET

Dodo trophy goes to BP's Tony Hayward

Former BP CEO Tony Hayward gets the bird.

BP's former CEO has won a couple yachting trophies in his day. But displaying his latest trophy probably won't fly with him.

The Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit organization, has given Hayward its 2010 Rubber Dodo Award. The award recognizes the person who the group says "has done the most to drive endangered species extinct."

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."


September 30th, 2010
04:21 PM ET

BP agrees to pay $15M for refinery violations

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.


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Filed under: BP • Texas
September 20th, 2010
10:07 AM ET

Will BP drill again?

BP says it has permanently capped the ruptured oil well. But Adm. Thad Allen tells American Morning's John Roberts that there's still a lot of work to do to ensure cleanup operations continue.

Roberts: "As of Friday, there [were] still 2,600 vessels out there, 2,500 people working on cleanup operations. How long will that process go on?

Allen: As long as it takes to get the marshes and the beaches clean. We have detailed plans we've negotiated with the states and the parishes in Louisiana. In some areas, we're going to stay with this for quite a while. They still have oil in them; we still need to work on it. And some of these places we're going to have to agree on when we agree nothing further can be done. But right now, we're still at it."

Roberts: BP has left open the possibility of drilling into the reservoir again. Certainly there's an awful lot of oil beneath the sea floor there. But the question many people might have is after what happened with that well, is it a good idea to tap back into that reservoir?

Allen: I think whether they tap back into that reservoir or not will be something between BP and the Department of Interior. That's a policy decision. Frankly, it's above my pay grade. But through the joint investigative team and the reviews going on, not only deep sea drilling, but the response itself, there'll be a high level of assurance taken by the government before any decision is made.

Roberts: What's your personal sense of it after being involved so long? Should they go back down there?

Allen: I think we've got a lot of problems with energy in this country related to fossil fuels and [there's a] need to move to other types of fuels. This will have to be a balanced discussion taking in the need to have an energy policy moving forward as we transition to more environmentally friendly fuels.

September 19th, 2010
02:07 PM ET

Gulf well permanently plugged, U.S. says

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.


September 16th, 2010
08:06 AM ET

3,634 dead birds collected in Gulf, wildlife service says

A laughing gull wallows in sludge in June on East Grand Terre Island, Louisiana.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the first time is breaking down the species of oiled birds collected - alive and dead - in the Gulf of Mexico since the April 20 BP well blowout.

As of Tuesday, 4,676 birds had been collected; 3,634 of those were dead. Of the dead birds, 1,226 were visibly oiled.

Of the dead birds, the largest numbers are laughing gulls (1,591), followed by brown pelicans (376) and northern gannets (182). FULL POST

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Filed under: Animals • Environment • Gulf Coast Oil Spill • U.S.
September 15th, 2010
01:15 PM ET

BP's Hayward: Oil spill wasn't because of cost-cutting

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.


September 15th, 2010
09:17 AM ET

On the Radar: Tea Party, Gulf oil, BP, Tropical Storm Karl

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.  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.

And our columnists and analysts weigh on why Christine O'Donnell's win is good for Dems, why midterms matter, and what these races mean for the general election in November.


September 14th, 2010
11:45 AM ET

Justice Department expects to sue BP

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

September 13th, 2010
03:10 PM ET

BP begins drilling first relief well

BP has begun drilling its first relief well, the company announced in a statement Monday.

Drilling began at 2:40 p.m. ET after a sleeve was successfully installed over the well over the weekend.


September 8th, 2010
03:08 PM ET

Highlights of the BP report on causes of the Gulf oil disaster

[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."


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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
September 8th, 2010
09:57 AM ET

On the Radar: BP findings, Islamic center imam, economy

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.


September 7th, 2010
01:25 PM ET

NOAA says no signs of 'dead zone' in Gulf

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.

September 2nd, 2010
10:20 PM ET

Cap is off BP's ruptured well

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.


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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
September 2nd, 2010
09:36 AM ET

On the Radar: Hurricane Earl, T.I.'s arrest, Gulf oil disaster

Hurricane Earl - With North Carolina's Outer Banks 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 covering 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.


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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill • Israel • Middle East • On the Radar • Showbiz • TI • Weather
August 30th, 2010
11:53 AM ET

Cousteau: Slow and steady will win in Gulf

Philippe Cousteau on a beach in the Gulf of Mexico, surrounded by oil.

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.


August 27th, 2010
10:27 AM ET

NOAA: 4,281 square miles reopened for Louisiana fishing

The federal government has reopened 4,281 square miles of federal waters off the western coast of Louisiana to commercial and recreational fishing, according to Dr. Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Filed under: Gulf Coast Oil Spill • Louisiana
August 23rd, 2010
02:08 PM ET

Independent agency takes over Gulf claims payments

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility "is fully functioning and will begin to process claims for emergency payment," according to a Monday press

The independent agency, headed by attorney Kenneth Feinberg - who
handled the 9/11 victims' compensation fund - was established in June as part of an agreement between the Obama administration and BP to facilitate processing of the personal and business claims from those affected by the Gulf oil disaster stemming from the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20.

BP said last week that it was no longer accepting claims as the
transition to the new entity was taking place. The oil giant, which said it has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in claims so far, will continue to handle claims put in by government entities.


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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
August 19th, 2010
08:11 PM ET

Researchers say they saw 22-mile plume in Gulf

Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said they detected a plume of hydrocarbons in June that was at least 22 miles long and more than 3,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a residue of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

According to the institution, the 1.2-mile-wide, 650-foot-high plume of trapped hydrocarbons provides at least a partial answer to recent questions asking where all the oil has gone as surface slicks shrink and disappear.

"These results indicate that efforts to book-keep where the oil went must now include this plume" in the Gulf, said Christopher Reddy, a Woods Hole marine geochemist and oil spill expert. He is one of the authors of the study, which appears in the Aug. 19 issue of the journal Science.


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