EJToday: Top Headlines
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"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."
"In a closed-door briefing for members of Congress, a senior BP executive conceded Tuesday that the ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico could conceivably spill as much as 60,000 barrels a day of oil, more than 10 times the estimate of the current flow."
"Anti-drilling Democrats pledged on Tuesday to block any climate and energy bill that would pave the way for new oil and gas drilling off the coasts of the United States, stepping up the heat on what was already a contentious issue in the Senate debate."
"If U.S. officials had followed up on a 1994 response plan for a major Gulf oil spill, it is possible that the spill could have been kept under control and far from land. The problem: The federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand."
"Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay $27.6 million to settle allegations that it improperly handled and dumped hazardous waste at stores across California in a case that led to changes in the retailer's practices nationwide, prosecutors said Monday."
The $2 billion in federal stimulus money was welcomed in southeastern Washington, where the government has been working for decades to clean up the Hanford nuclear complex. But newly hired workers on the project may be facing dangers because of inadequate training and precautions for the threat of deadly beryllium dust.
"National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration officials last fall warned the Department of Interior, which regulates offshore oil drilling, that it was dramatically underestimating the frequency of offshore oil spills and was dangerously understating the risk and impacts a major spill would have on coastal residents."
Dispersants used on the Gulf oil spill may have toxic effects and harm ecosystems -- raising questions about whether the cure is worse than the disease. Companies refuse to disclose some of the ingredients, saying they are trade secrets.
"Engineers and welders successfully rejoined two huge water pipes inside a muddy crater early this morning, and state officials said they hope to restore clean water within days to 2 million residents of Greater Boston."
GOP pundits and politicos -- as well as some Democrats -- are spewing
a mess of sayings that some call "irresponsible" in response to the Gulf oil
spill. Hate-talker Rush Limbaugh accused 'environmentalist wackos' of having
blown up the rig, and former White House spokesperson Dana Perino echoed him.
Neither presented any evidence for the insinuations.
"The EPA is warning that Gulf Coast residents are at risk of headaches, nausea, and other ill health effects; the culprit is air pollution from the oil burns that response teams are conducting to try to keep the big slick away from coastlines."
Although BP has said it will compensate victims, "lawmakers and Gulf Coast residents began questioning whether the company will take full responsibility for the economic losses stemming from the spill. ... A law passed after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill requires companies to pay for cleanup costs but no more than $75 million for other damage."
"A historic environmental protection bill is in danger after a massive oil spill put a new focus on the perils of offshore drilling, a feature that was supposed to win wider support for the legislation."