E2 Round-up: Hurricane slows oil cleanup effort, EPA weighs effects of oil dispersants, and Interior pushes back hearings on oil drilling expansion

EPA has completed preliminary tests on BP’s oil dispersing chemical

Here’s the Washington Post on EPA’s findings:

"The Environmental Protection Agency released its first round of testing results on the toxicity of oil dispersants Wednesday, saying initial findings suggest that the dispersant BP is using in the Gulf of Mexico is less harmful than oil and does not pose as significant an environmental threat as the spill does."

The Los Angeles Times summed it up this way:

"The Environmental Protection Agency issued a study Wednesday that found that the dispersant being used by BP in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as seven alternative mass-produced dispersants, all fell within the range of 'practically non-toxic' to 'slightly toxic.' "

But their story notes that “the study offered little relief to environmentalists and ocean scientists concerned about the unprecedented amounts of dispersant being sprayed into the gulf in an attempt to mitigate BP's massive oil leak.”

Interior Department delaying public hearings on its plans to allow expanded oil drilling

The Obama administration, three weeks before the oil spill began, announced plans to allow expanded oil-and-gas leasing in the 2012-2017 period. But the spill has slowed down the effort.

“The Interior Department, preoccupied with its response to the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, said Wednesday that it was pushing back the date of public hearings on the administration’s plan, announced before the disaster began, to expand offshore drilling,” the New York Times reports.

“The process was to have begun with public hearings in Alaska, along the Gulf Coast and the southern Atlantic Coast in June and early July. Those hearings have now been put off until later in the year, the department said in a statement. No new dates were given.”