By Ben Geman - 06/02/10 11:29 AM EDT
“Legal experts said bringing a civil case against BP for violating the federal Clean Water Act could be relatively straight-forward. But to bring a successful criminal case, the government must generally show the defendant knowingly flouted the law or that the pollution was the result of negligence.”
Hurricanes would disrupt oil spill cleanup but might also disperse the crude
The BBC looks at the ominous arrival of the Atlantic hurricane season, which federal forecasters believe could be quite active.
“Apart from the possibility of damage and loss of life unrelated to the oil spill, there is a very obvious downside to hurricanes passing near the source of the oil spill,” they report.
“A hurricane will clearly disrupt the efforts to stop the leak and also affect ships on their way to the site. On shore, tasks like the laying of boom and rescue of wildlife will become more problematic.”
Remarkably, a hurricane could also have a beneficial effect on the spill, some experts say.
“But what will happen to the oil that is already out there floating in the sea? High winds and heavy seas will mix the oil and water and help the process of biodegradation, NOAA believes,” the BBC reports.
Ed Overton, an environmental studies expert at Louisiana State University, agrees with this view, the story notes.
"Concentrated oil in a very small area is very bad. But if you spread it out… nature can handle that. Bacteria can degrade the oil. I'm of the belief that hurricanes are Mother Nature's dispersant,” he says in the BBC account.
But the story adds another warning: “[T]here is another downside. A hurricane has the potential to take oil to places it would not otherwise reach. It all depends on the path of the hurricane.”
The controversy over building up sand berms to protect wetlands continues
Time magazine has a good look at a battle between federal and Louisiana officials over plans to build up barrier islands to try and protect fragile Louisana marshlands from the encroaching oil.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is a relentless proponent. So is Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). But the Obama administration has provided only a yellow light, approving a portion of the plan in a stance that Jindal calls too modest.
The story notes that the sand berm issue has “created its own toxic friction between Louisiana and the Obama Administration.” Advocates of the projects say they will help keep the oil away from extremely fragile and valuable ecosystems. Others aren’t so sure.
“Environmentalists and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — as well as BP — fear even temporary berms could mess with natural tidal flows as well as the integrity of naturally existing barrier islands. There are also questions about how well they hold up in storms, and about the effects of the massive dredging of ocean-floor sand required to construct them,” the story notes.
But Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser is also pushing hard for the plan
“At the Plaquemines parish seafood festival over the weekend, many locals even wore T-shirts that read ‘Dredge Baby Dredge.’ It might not be the prettiest motto, but to folks who live and work near Louisiana's bayous, it seems the best way to fend off the far uglier sight offshore,” the piece concludes.
The oil spill is providing Thad Allen perhaps his toughest challenge
The Los Angeles Times has an in-depth piece on Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander in charge of the federal response to the oil spill.
Reporter Jim Tankersley sets the stage by observing Allen at an early morning briefing that turns into a pep talk for the responders tackling the unrelenting spill.
“He finished his pep talk with an admonition recycled from his last seemingly hopeless mission in the Gulf of Mexico: Hurricane Katrina. Whomever you run into, Allen told his ragtag band, treat them like a sister or brother,” he writes.
“It is a philosophy that has won Allen wide acclaim, including ceremonial dances in Alaska, a spot on the menu in a New Orleans institution and a mischievous favor from the most successful NFL team of all time. Now, it will either carry him to a career-capping triumph or tarnish his legacy and, perhaps, the president's.”