Environmental news from California and beyond

« Previous Post | Greenspace Home | Next Post »

Gulf oil spill: Admiral keeps the heat on BP

June 6, 2010 |  8:21 am
The commander of the federal government’s response to the gulf oil spill said Sunday that BP’s latest effort to contain the oil gushing from the sea floor was showing promising signs as the cap over the wellhead funneled oil to the surface.

“We’re making the right progress,” U.S Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said on CNN's "State of the Union with Candy Crowley." But he cautioned that much remains to be done. “I don’t think anyone should be pleased as long as there’s oil in the water.”
Allen said he was not ready to estimate how much oil was being captured and said a permanent solution is still months away. On Saturday, officials estimated that the cap had captured about 6,000 barrels of oil. BP is drilling two relief wells that will ultimately plug the leak sometime in August.

Allen, the Obama administration’s point person on the leak, said that BP has much more work to do to stop the oil from reaching marshes and beaches along the Gulf Coast and pay claims from affected Gulf Coast residents. “It’s got to get better,” he said of BP's response on "Fox News Sunday."

Allen also acknowledged that the federal government still does not have enough boats to skim oil from thousands of square miles of the Gulf of Mexico. “There will always be an unmet demand,” Allen said on ABC’s “This Week,” noting the massive reach of the spill that includes pockets of oil stretching from the Louisiana marshes to beaches in Florida.

Both BP and the federal government are facing criticism for not moving forcefully or quickly enough to contain the environmental disaster.

But two governors along the Gulf Coast, Republican Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Independent Charlie Crist of Florida, said Sunday that the Coast Guard has responded to their pleas for help.

At the same time, Barbour strongly criticized the Obama administration’s plans to impose a six-month moratorium on new offshore drilling, warning that oil companies would permanently move production overseas, making the country even more dependent on foreign oil. “If you shut this down, don’t kid yourself, you’re not shutting this down for six months,” Barbour said on Fox News Sunday.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, has leveled similar criticism at the moratorium.

-- Noam N. Levey, reporting from Washington