BP ups spill est. from 5,000 to 60,000, feds gave BP free pass in ’09 study
Steve Gelsi of MarketWatch reports that in a closed-door meeting with Congress, BP officials have significantly raised the estimated leakage from the oil spill. Although the earlier number estimated approximately 5,000 barrels of crude oil were spewing into the ocean, BP officials now peg the daily output around 60,000 barrels a day.
BP officials said the larger figure represents a worst-case scenario. BP spokesman Toby Odone declined to comment on the 60,000 barrel figure, which was reported by The New York Times. The official tally remains up to 5,000 barrels a day, he said.
Meanwhile the Obama administration signaled it would support a fresh push in Congress to raise the oil spill liability limit to $10 billion from $75 million, according to reports.
The existing cap on other damages is included in the Oil Pollution Act. BP has already said it is willing and expects to pay more than $74 million.
Amidst recent fears that the oil slick may even reach the coast of Florida, authorities have stepped up efforts to prevent such consequences:
Meanwhile, Coast Guard and other authorities have been stepping up potential spill impacts in the Florida Keys and the west coast of Florida, including St. Petersburg.
BP also claims progress on the effort:
BP also said it stopped one of three existing leak points on the damaged MC252 oil well and riser in the Gulf of Mexico, which it said won’t affect the overall rate of flow but will reduce the complexity of the situation being dealt with on the seabed.
Not helping matters — or the Obama administration — are reports that government agencies exempted BP — a “categorical exclusion” to be exact — from an environmental impact study in 2009.
From Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post:
The Interior Department exempted BP’s calamitous Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact analysis last year, according to government documents, after three reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely…
“They never did an analysis that took into account what turns out to be the very real possibility of a serious spill,” said Holly Doremus, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who has reviewed the documents.
Kierán Suckling, executive director of the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, said the “agency’s oversight role has devolved to little more than rubber-stamping British Petroleum’s self-serving drilling plans.”