Topics: Where the fines from the oil spill will go. Federal spill investigation report delayed again. BP rig supervisor excused from testimony for "medical reasons". Faster permits to drill mean more jobs... Reform at BP falls short. Feds' power covers contractors. Who cleans up tarballs after a storm now?
You are in the current Gulf Watchers BP Catastrophe AUV #540. AUV #539 is here.
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After much wrangling, stepping on toes, and leaving in a huff - nine senators representing Gulf Coast states have come to agreement on how money BP, et. al., has paid in the form of fines will be distributed - and as you might expect, environmental concerns get the crumbs...well, not really crumbs, but much less of a share than it's more noisy big brother ECONOMIC IMPACT...
Under the Restore the Gulf Coast Act of 2011, the money will be distributed to all five Gulf states - although Louisiana maintained it was most directly affected by the gusher, other states countered that even though they did not have much oil on their beaches, they were affected economically and deserve a share of the pie...
The money - Clean Water Act fines assessed on the companies for violations incurred as a result of the Deepwater Horizon blowout - will not be distributed yet, but the general agreement moves the process along.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, (D-CA) the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said that during discussion it was not clear if any agreement would be achieved.
"This was not easy. I can recall several difficult meetings in my office with various colleagues," Boxer said at a Capitol Hill news conference announcing the accord. "Looking at Bill (Nelson, D-FL). Looking at Richard (Shelby, R-AL)."
Shelby called the agreement "good news for Alabama’s environmental and economic recovery from the oil spill."
"This legislation allows for great flexibility in the allocation of recovery funds to ensure that the penalties our state is owed are distributed in the best interest of Alabama’s coastal communities," Shelby’s statement said.
Senator Mary Landrieu (DINO-LA) calls the act "important":
“The Deepwater Horizon explosion was a tragedy that took the lives of 11 men and devastated an already fragile coastline. While there are many things that must be done to respond to that horrific incident, the Restore the Gulf Coast Act of 2011 is one of the most important things that needs to be done.”
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) said the compromise would bring speedy recovery to the Gulf Coast. (Sure, Roger... Anything you say... jerk...)
"It represents a balanced approach by all Gulf state senators to support economic and environmental restoration," Wicker said during the news conference.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) was the only member of the group not signing the agreement. His office had no comment.
The federal Clean Water Act mandates that companies responsible for disasters such as last summer’s Gulf oil spill must pay penalties based on the amount of oil spilled. BP PLC and other responsible parties could be on the hook for between $5.4 billion and $21.1 billion.
A breakdown of the general distribution of funds from a press packet from the office of Sen. Shelby:
As you might imagine, the lion's share goes anywhere but to environmental concerns. I guess 30-35 percent is better than nothing. But with this: ...projects...chosen by the council without strict guidelines regarding how much goes to each state there is sure to be continued disagreement as to what goes where, and delays made by arguing over money may be more costly for the Gulf environment.
Hood’s comment came a day after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the audit in a letter to the fund’s administrator, Kenneth Feinberg. Holder stressed the goal is to balance the need for resolving claims quickly and fairly along with the need to start an audit before the end of the year.
Hood said his office’s attempts to access the documents on Mississippi claims had failed; that BP and Feinberg have responded with some information but not all requested documentation had been received.
The BP fund has paid $4.7 billion to 198,475 claimants.
The total number of claimants stands at 522,506, of which many are multiple claims. The fund has nearly 1 million claims and receives thousands more each week.
The joint investigation by the US Coast Guard and the BOEMRE of the Deepwater Horizon disaster will not meet the reporting deadline of July 27th, even after receiving two extensions, but team members say they are putting the final touches on their report as to what caused the blowout.
“To ensure that all evidence is properly weighed and considered, the JIT is taking additional time to finalize the report,” said Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman for the joint investigation team. “The team is in the final stages of completing its report and expects to release it in the near future.”
The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) said that the delays are unacceptable.
“The government has repeatedly delayed this report and we are well past the time when clear answers are needed,” Hastings said in a statement. “Congress and the American people expect the agencies to complete their work and tell us the facts they have discovered through the investigation.”
But Hastings' ire may be driven less by concern for environmental and human factors than a frenzy to get "reports" out of the way and resume frantic drilling.
“We have information from numerous other reports, but the Coast Guard and BOEMRE must move swiftly to issue their report to provide Congress and the American people with a complete picture about what happened,” Hastings said, and stressed that Congress needs “all the facts surrounding the cause of this tragic event before jumping to conclusions and passing reforms with long-term consequences.” He has insisted that major spill-inspired reforms be driven by impartial conclusions about what went wrong at BP’s failed Macondo well.
One of the two BP well site leaders on the Deepwater Horizon at the time of the deadly April 20, 2010 blowout has been excused from testifying in the massive civil lawsuits surrounding the accident.
Does anyone feel that this may be a bit fishy? Someone does not want Mr. Vidrine to talk? Maybe enough to slip him some cash not to talk? Just sayin'...
Well, jobs could increase dramatically...after the next blowout and subsequent spill. Just think of all those boats laying all that f*king boom! (We miss you, Fishgrease!) And all those regular folks who would be on the beaches collecting tarballs. And all those newly-invented skimmer-sucker thingies! Wow! Lots and lots of jobs!
Faster permitting of offshore oil and gas projects could create nearly 230,000 new jobs in 2012 and boost the economy by $44 billion, including a surge in federal and state tax revenues, according to an industry-funded study put out today by IHS-CERA.
And this is a really good read... Loren Steffy of FuelFix says that the new and improved BP - after they have implemented their "reforms" - falls far short of actually being an "improvement"...
BP’s strategy for returning to the Gulf of Mexico is going according to plan.
If you aren't averse to bringing a little anger to your weekend, please check out the entire article...
For decades, the U.S. agency that polices offshore drilling has had a laser-like focus on the companies searching for oil and gas in federal waters.
And since we have been sort of lucky with storms in the Gulf last summer, when we really didn't need them - and so far this year - what happens when a biggie roars through and churns up all that stuff still out there? What then?
More than a month into hurricane season, there’s still no plan for what to do if storm surge washes oil onto Alabama’s beaches.
I think you've hit the nail on the head, Mr. Mayor. It was, is, and always shall be...a cover-up.
PLEASE visit Pam LaPier's diary to find out how you can help the Gulf now and in the future. We don't have to be idle! And thanks to Crashing Vor and Pam LaPier for working on this!
Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
|7-17-11 01:29 PM||Gulf Watchers Sunday - Judge Rejects RICO Charges Against BP - BP Catastrophe AUV #538||Yasuragi|
|7-15-11 08:11 PM||Gulf Watchers Block Party--WTF? Nobody home?||Phil S 33|
|7-13-11 03:50 PM||Gulf Watchers Wednesday -Hey BP... We Haven't Recovered! - BP Catastrophe AUV #537||shanesnana|
|7-10-11 12:13 PM||Gulf Watchers Sunday - Generating an Alternative Reality - BP Catastrophe AUV #536||Lorinda Pike|
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