Follow Barack Obama prior and during his tenure as the 44th President of the United States. Read about my personal observations along with every day facts as they happen. This blog will only submit factual information about the first black President, now in his 2nd term of office.


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GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL UPDATE: New Rules & Presidential Visit

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Outgoing U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen has now said the government team calculating the extent of the oil spill in the Gulf if close to announcing its findings. According to the latest CBS Evening News poll, just 35 percent of Americans approve of the Obama Administration’s handling of the oil spill.

Congress continues to grapple with the question of how much BP and other oil companies should be on the hook to pay for major oil spills such as the one in the Gulf. Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) has now become the third Republican to block Democratic efforts to raise the liability cap for oil companies. He blocked a unanimous consent sought by Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) to pass legislation that would make the cap unlimited, up from $75 million.

Senator Vitter and Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have introduced another bill to codify BP’s commitment to paying all the costs associated with the cleanup in the Gulf from the Horizon spill. Senator Vitter said on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday that his bill would only address the Gulf spill rather than other oil companies and future spills.

BP officials are continuing to run diagnostics on the blowout preventer above the leaking well, a final step before the top kill effort gets underway today or tomorrow. BP has also now given details of another backup plan if the top kill doesn’t work. This would involve what BP calls the LMRP cap, for Lower Marine Riser Package. The very top of the blowout preventer would be severed using the robotic submarines and a new containment dome would be lowered onto the blowout preventer that would capture much more of the oil than has been captured thus far.

President Obama faces growing pressure from fellow Democrats who say he should take stronger action to step the BP oil spill. Republican criticism of the Administration’s handling of the spill is also escalating. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming said yesterday, “the cloud of confusion over how much oil is spilling into the Gulf is very concerning. And it’s also very unclear who was in charge.”

Meanwhile, BP is under fire for their continued use of the chemical dispersant Corexit that the EPA calls toxic. Scientists and legal experts have said the chemical may be toxic to marine life.

On Thursday, President Obama will announce new permitting procedures for oil rigs and tougher inspections to ensure safety and environmental rules are being followed. The President is also scheduled to receive a report on Thursday from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on the cause of the BP spill. The President also heads to the Gulf coast on Friday, his second visit in about four weeks, as the administration is under fire over how well it is overseeing a complex fix-it effort.

The Interior Department’s new regulations governing safety and environmental practices will replace a system of largely self-regulation by the oil companies and will include mandating additional inspections of rigs after their construction is complete to ensure that safety features are installed properly.

Tropical Storm Risk this week predicted that the 2010 hurricane season in the Atlantic will be 'active' and produce 16 tropical storms, including eight hurricanes, four of them intense, with a 74 percent chance that more storms than normal will hit the continental US. The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, which starts June 1, is expected to be among the most-active on record. Academic and commercial forecasters are calling for the storm total to range from 14 to 18 named storms by the time the season ends December 1. As the number of hurricanes rises, so do the chances of one striking the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf is home to about 30 percent of U.S. oil and 12 percent of U.S. natural gas production according to the US Energy Department.


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