Below on the Bayoubuzz Buzz Boards, discuss these White House issues and actions:
Today President Obama will meet with Senior government officials to review the oil spill situation and discuss plans moving forward. Prior to the meeting President Obama sent a memorandum to the heads of Executive Departments and Agencies regarding the Long-Term Gulf Coast Restoration Support Plan directing the creation of a plan of federal support for the long-term economic and environmental restoration of the Gulf Coast region.
For more of the latest in the ongoing Administration-wide response view the following overview provided by the Joint Information Center.
Heidi Avery is White House Deputy Homeland Security Advisor
The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill
Prepared by the Joint Information Center
UPDATED June 30, 2010 7 PM
In the Past 24 Hours
The President Outlines Long-Term Coordination Plan for Gulf Coast Restoration
President Obama sent a memorandum to the heads of Executive Departments and Agencies regarding the Long-Term Gulf Coast Restoration Support Plan—outlining ways in which Navy Secretary Ray Mabus will coordinate with leaders across the administration and the White House, along with states, local communities, tribes, people whose livelihoods depend on the Gulf, businesses, conservationists, scientists and others to create a plan of federal support for the long-term economic and environmental restoration of the Gulf Coast region. The memorandum is available here.
Senior Administration Officials and Scientists Meet With BP on Oil Containment Efforts
As part of ongoing efforts to engage the brightest minds from across the federal government, academia and the private sector in the response to the BP oil spill, senior administration officials including Secretary Salazar, Secretary Chu, Secretary Napolitano, Carol Browner and Admiral Thad Allen, met with members of the federal science team and BP officials to discuss the progress of additional well containment options and the status of relief well drilling efforts. The meeting was held at the Department of the Interior. Senior government officials will meet with President Obama tomorrow to review the oil spill situation and discuss plans moving forward.
Admiral Allen Provides Operational Update on the BP Oil Spill Response
National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen provided a briefing to inform the American public and answer questions on the progress of the administration-wide response to the BP oil spill. A transcript is available here.
Rear Admiral Zukunft Provides Update on the Effects of Current Weather
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft provided an update on the effects of severe weather on response efforts. Because of elevated sea states, response crews have not been able to conduct skimming or controlled burn operations; increased wave heights have caused boom to break apart in some areas. Sea states have also delayed the connection of the third vessel, the Helix Producer, to the floating riser pipe—which will bring collection capacity up to 53,000 barrels a day. Storm surges could cause oil to be pushed further into inland areas. The Coast Guard is monitoring the flow of oil and is prepared to deploy additional resources if inland areas are impacted. Weather has not had any impact on the drilling of relief wells.
EPA Releases First Round of Toxicity Testing Data for Eight Oil Dispersants
The Environmental Protection Agency today released peer reviewed results from the first round of its own independent toxicity testing on eight oil dispersants. EPA conducted testing to ensure that decisions about ongoing dispersant use in the Gulf of Mexico continue to be grounded in the best available science. Additional testing is needed to further inform the use of dispersants. For more information, click here.
NOAA Adds Two Ships to Fleet of Scientific Research Vessels
A NOAA research ship and a university-owned vessel are conducting two complementary studies to gather data on the Loop Current and area ecosystems in response to the BP oil spill. NOAA Ship Nancy Foster—one of six NOAA-owned ships supporting the oil spill response effort—began a two-week survey in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Straits.
The R/V Savannah, operated by the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah, Ga., is sailing through the Florida Keys and western Florida shelf as part of a long-term bimonthly sampling effort for NOAA’s South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Program that has been modified to collect samples to check for the presence of oil in the region.
Labor Department Announces $27 Million to Aid Workers Affected by the Oil Spill
The Department of Labor today announced a total of $27 million in National Emergency Grant awards to Gulf Coast states to assist workers who have been displaced as a result of the BP oil spill—for job placement, skills training and career counseling. The funds are being awarded to workforce agencies in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi—states experiencing economic hardship as a result of wage decline and job loss in the shrimping, fishing, hospitality and tourism industries.
BP Continues to Optimize Oil Recovery Rates from its Leaking Well
Under the direction of the federal government, BP continues to capture some oil and burn gas at the surface using its containment dome technique—collecting oil aboard the Discoverer Enterprise, which is linked by a fixed riser pipe to the wellhead, and flaring off additional oil and gas on the Q4000, which is connected to the choke line. The collection capacity is expected to increase to an estimated 53,000 barrels once the third vessel, the Helix Producer, is connected to the floating riser pipe—a redundancy measure also taken at the administration’s direction.
Progress Continues in Drilling Relief Wells; Ranging Process Continues
The Development Driller III has drilled the first relief well to a depth of approximately 16,900 feet below the surface. The Development Driller II has drilled the second relief well—a redundancy measure taken at the direction of the administration—to a depth of more than 12,000 feet below the Gulf surface. BP continues the “ranging” process—which involves periodically withdrawing the drill pipe and sending an electrical signal down to determine how close they are getting to the wellbore.
Approved SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Top $8.5 Million
SBA has approved 128 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling more than $8.5 million for small businesses in the Gulf Coast impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 531 existing SBA disaster loans in the region, totaling more than $2.6 million per month in payments. For information on assistance loans for affected businesses, visit the SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance, call (800) 659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or email [email protected].
Administration Continues to Oversee BP’s Claims Process
The administration will continue to hold the responsible parties accountable for repairing the damage, and repaying Americans who’ve suffered a financial loss as a result of the BP oil spill. To date, 87,416 claims have been opened, from which more than $132.3 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are 952 claims adjusters on the ground. To file a claim, visit www.bp.com/claims or call BP’s helpline at 1-800-440-0858. Those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP’s resolution can call the Coast Guard at (800) 280-7118. Additional information about the BP claims process and all available avenues of assistance can be found at www.disasterassistance.gov.
By the Numbers to Date:
- The administration has authorized the deployment of 17,500 National Guard troops from Gulf Coast states to respond to this crisis; currently, 1,605 are active.
- Approximately 42,700 personnel are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife and cleanup vital coastlines.
- More than 6,800 vessels are currently responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts—in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.
- Approximately 2.76 million feet of containment boom and 4.92 million feet of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill—and approximately 856,000 feet of containment boom and 2.04 million feet of sorbent boom are available.
- More than 28.2 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
- Approximately 1.61 million gallons of total dispersant have been applied—1.03 million on the surface and 577,000 sub-sea. More than 504,000 gallons are available.
- 275 controlled burns have been conducted, efficiently removing a total of approximately 10 million gallons of oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife. Because calculations on the volume of oil burned can take more than 48 hours, the reported total volume may not reflect the most recent controlled burns.
- 17 staging areas are in place to protect sensitive shorelines.
- Approximately 423 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline is currently oiled—approximately 259 miles in Louisiana, 48 miles in Mississippi, 47 miles in Alabama, and 69 miles in Florida. These numbers reflect a daily snapshot of shoreline currently experiencing impacts from oil so that planning and field operations can more quickly respond to new impacts; they do not include cumulative impacts to date, or shoreline that has already been cleared.
- Approximately 80,228 square miles of Gulf of Mexico federal waters remain closed to fishing in order to balance economic and public health concerns. More than 66 percent remains open. Details can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/.
- To date, the administration has leveraged assets and skills from numerous foreign countries and international organizations as part of this historic, all-hands-on-deck response, including Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization and the European Union's Monitoring and Information Centre.