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Storm Continues to Hinder Work on Oil Spill


Business  (tags: corporate, Alex, hurricane, Gulf oil spill )

Dave
- 3245 days ago - nytimes.com
Hurricane Alex, was downgraded Thursday morning to a tropical storm, but it continued to halt progress on containment work in the Gulf of Mexico and threatened to disperse oil farther into the marshes along the Mississippi Delta.



   

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Dave Kane (308)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 2:51 am
Hurricane Alex, was downgraded Thursday morning to a tropical storm, but it continued to halt progress on containment work in the Gulf of Mexico and threatened to disperse oil farther into the marshes along the Mississippi Delta.

Although Mexico and southern Texas bore the full brunt of the storm, 10-foot waves rose at the site of the spill hundreds of miles to the east and winds blew at about 29 miles an hour, idling the vessels used for skimming and ferrying supplies back and forth.

“We’ve been held hostage by the oil, but now the weather is holding us hostage,” Rear Adm. Paul F. Zukunft of the Coast Guard said Wednesday.

Because of the seas and high winds, all 510 skimmers used to collect oil from the surface had to be recalled to shore, he said.

Perhaps the only positive news for officials was that the storm was not expected to delay efforts on the drilling of the two relief wells. That operation can function in seas of up to 15 feet, Admiral Zukunft said.

The Atlantic season’s first hurricane weakened as it moved over northern Mexico Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm, the strongest June hurricane since 1966, had sustained winds of more than 100 miles an hour at its core. It was a sprawling system of rain and tropical-force winds that extended out for about 200 miles from its center, churning up the sea. It was deluging southern Texas and northern New Mexico with heavy rains, causing streets to flood in Brownsville and Matamoros, Mexico. At least five tornadoes spun out of the storm and did minor damage Wednesday afternoon in Texas.

In Washington, Congress took the first steps on Wednesday on a number of measures responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, including lifting liability caps for damages from an oil spill, revamping federal regulation of oil drilling and requiring more robust technology to prevent well blowouts.

None of the bills are close to becoming law, although portions of some may be included in a broader energy bill expected to come before the Senate in July. Provisions in some of the bills overlap with actions the administration is already taking under its regulatory powers.

The Interior Department, preoccupied with responding to the oil leak, said it was pushing back the date of public hearings on the administration’s plan to expand offshore drilling announced this year. The department said that more extensive environmental and safety reviews were needed before moving ahead with any new leasing decisions.

Several Congressional committees took action on Wednesday on spill-related bills.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed, by voice vote, a measure lifting the cap on liability for damages arising from a major spill. Under existing law, a company responsible for a big oil leak is liable for only $75 million in damages beyond those of environmental cleanup. BP has said it will pay all legitimate claims and has set aside $20 billion for the purpose.

The Senate panel voted to remove the liability cap altogether, brushing aside a Republican amendment that would allow the president to set varying caps for individual accidents. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will take up its own version of a liability limits law on Thursday.

In the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, members approved a bill to overhaul regulation of offshore drilling, mirroring many of the steps already announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The bill would break up the department’s Minerals Management Service, now known as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, by separating its revenue collection functions from safety and environmental oversight. The bill also contains a number of new requirements for drillers, including extensive technology and safety reviews.

Also on Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee heard testimony on a bill that would prescribe more stringent safety rules for all high-risk wells, including the installation of redundant systems for shutting down wells in the event of a blowout. The bill — sponsored by Henry A. Waxman of California, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, and other Democrats on the committee — would also set stricter standards for how wells are built and monitored.

Republicans on the committee objected that the Democrats were setting costly new standards for the industry before the exact causes of the BP explosion were known. The committee plans a vote as early as Thursday on the measure.

Separately, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, said he was opening an inquiry into whether Transocean Ltd., owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, evaded or exploited American tax laws. The company is based in Switzerland.
 

Mack David (100)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 2:56 am
very informative.
Thanks-Dave
 

Teresa W (782)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 2:59 am
very sad
 

. (0)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 5:03 am
noted~ Thanks Dave!!
 

Ben O (131)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 5:31 am
I can't think of anything, but this:
"NO MORE OFFSHORE DRILLING!" (Avaaz Petition)
We cannot allow this to happen again, can we...???
To President Obama and members of Congress:
"We urge you to permanently call off plans to open up more of the US coastline to dangerous offshore drilling. Instead, invest in a CLEAN and SAFE ENERGY future!"
488,499 have signed the petition. Let's get to our delivery target of 500,000!
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stop_offshore_drilling/?fp
Thank You!
 

Angelo Frei (0)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 6:40 am
very interesting, thank you.
 

Muthu Dakshina (6)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 7:43 am
thank u so much for the information.
Gulf of Mexico, Oil spill
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 10:16 am
Thanks, Ben, for reminding us of the avaaz petition.Signed again, this time my husband's name. They are close to their goal. Please, everyone, check it out and sign.
 

vivian lombardozzi (0)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 10:37 am
noted
 

Cassandra Yazzie (28)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 12:04 pm
this whole event is so heart breaking. What kind of world have we left our children?
 

Dave Kane (308)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 1:25 pm
As long as we let the corporations run our lives we will all be dead sooner rather than later. Governments are just the tools of corporations.
 

Nightcat Mau (81)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 1:41 pm
Thanks so much and down with the man.
 

Eva L (93)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 2:54 pm
Very sad. Thanks BP!
 

Mary Donnelly (47)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 4:57 pm
Thanks Dave, and there are more hurricanes to come.
 

Eternal Gardener (734)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 5:23 pm
Thanks Dave and also Ben, have forwarded this time!
 

Matloob ul Hasan (81)
Sunday July 4, 2010, 7:19 pm
Noted, thanks.
 

Arild Warud (174)
Monday July 5, 2010, 1:06 am
Noted.
 

Past Member (0)
Monday July 5, 2010, 2:28 am
Thank you for sharing!
 

KS Goh (0)
Monday July 5, 2010, 5:03 am
Thanks for the info.
 
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