Oil Spill Update: Estimates of Oil Flowing into the Gulf Increased…Again; President Addresses Nation; BP Plans to Set Up Escrow
Estimates of Oil Flowing into the Gulf Increased…Again
Crude oil continues to hemorrhage into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deep Horizon drill rig. The government announced this week that they now believe the oil is flowing at a rate of 60,000 barrels, or roughly 2.5 million gallons, a day. That means that the same amount of oil that oozed into Prince William Sound during the Exxon Valdez disaster is flowing into the Gulf every four days.
Just last week officials estimated that the rate was 25,000 to 40,000 barrels a day, but after scientists looked at video and took pressure readings from a device installed in the cap BP is using to capture escaping oil, they reassessed their numbers. BP officials cut the pipe restricting the flow on June 3rd in order to install the cap that siphons 15,000 barrels of oil from the rig each day. “BP has outlined plans to deploy new equipment so that it can capture a minimum of 40,000 barrels a day by the end of June, and a minimum of 60,000 barrels a day by mid-July,” The New York Times reported.
“This estimate brings together several scientific methodologies and the latest information from the sea floor, and represents a significant step forward in our effort to put a number on the oil that is escaping from BP’s well,” Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “As we continue to collect additional data and refine these estimates, it is important to realize that the numbers can change.”
President Obama Addresses the Nation
For the first time in his presidency, Barack Obama spoke to the American public from the Oval Office, pressing us to support clean energy legislation and saying that now, in light of the Gulf spill tragedy, we must end our dependence on fossil fuels.
“Today, as we look to the gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude,” he said. “We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now.” (See the full text of the speech here.)
The New York Times reported that, “Administration officials said the speech marked ‘an inflection point’ in the nearly two-month-old crisis: the end of a phase in which BP tried and failed to stop the leak using the quickest available options, and the beginning of the ‘new reality’ that plugging the leak could take months and the cleanup months or even years past that.”
BP Plans to Set Up Escrow Account
Talks between President Obama and BP officials ended today in an agreement that the company will establish a $20 billion escrow account to pay Gulf coast damage claims.
“This administration and our company are fully aligned in our interest of closing this well, cleaning the beaches and caring for those affected,” said BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg. “I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the American people on behalf of all the employees of BP, many of whom are living on the Gulf coast,” he said, according to The Washington Post.
President Obama called the agreement a “good start.”
Volunteers Trample Eggs
Oil-cleaning crews in Louisiana crushed eggs as they walked on Queen Bess Island beaches in Plaquemines Parish, reported CNN.
“The people BP sent out to clean up oil trampled the nesting grounds of brown pelicans and other birds,” said Billy Nungesser, the parish president, according to the article. “Pelicans just came off the endangered species list in November of last year. They already have the oil affecting their population during their reproduction time, now we have the so-called clean up crews stomping eggs. The lack of urgency and general disregard for Louisiana's wetlands and wildlife is enough to make you sick.”
EDF Oil Spill Video
One writer for CleanTechies.com traveled to the Gulf and returned with a burning throat and haunting images. When he showed his pictures to his family, his 13-year-old daughter put on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” performed in the Glee season finale. “The song, a slow, sweet, ukulele and guitar-driven version, couldn’t have added a deeper sense of tragic irony,” David Yarnold writes. “I choked up. And then that resolve kicked in: I wanted anyone/everyone to see what our addiction to oil had done to the Gulf and to contrast that with the sense of hope and possibility that ‘Somewhere’ exudes.”