E2 Round-up: White House broadens vehicle mileage rules, critics ramp up attacks on BP over spill estimates, and the oil industry readies new safety ideas

The Detroit Free Press notes, “The move keeps the Obama administration in the driver's seat rather than leaving future standards to Congress or individual states. It also offers the industry a long-term standard that it has said is critical for developing new energy-efficient technologies.”

BP facing new attacks over amount of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico

Lawmakers and other critics are ramping up allegations that BP has downplayed the rate of oil pouring out of the damaged undersea well.

BP has in recent days has been able to collect some of the oil through a tube inserted into a damaged well pipe. But that operation has also fed charges that the estimate of 5,000 barrels per day flowing from the damaged well is wildly off base.

“BP's success at drawing oil from a leaking pipe has proved that official estimates of the size of the Gulf of Mexico spill have been too low,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“The company effectively admitted as much Thursday when it said that a tube inserted into the broken pipe connected to its blown-out well is collecting as much as 5,000 barrels of oil and 15 million cubic feet of gas a day, even as a live video feed shows large volumes continuing to billow into gulf waters,” their story adds.

Outside scientists who have reviewed undersea video believe the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf may be far, far higher than federal and BP estimates.

McClatchy Newspapers is out with a story that ties the spill estimates to BP’s financial jeopardy.

“BP's estimate that only 5,000 barrels of oil are leaking daily from a well in the Gulf of Mexico, which the Obama administration hasn't disputed, could save the company millions of dollars in damages when the financial impact of the spill is resolved in court, legal experts say,” McClatchy reports.

Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerKamala Harris endorses Gavin Newsom for California governor Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response Billionaire Steyer to push for Dem House push MORE (D-Calif.) watched undersea video of the gusher and “denounced a ‘cover-up’ of the real size of the oil spill,” Reuters reports.

Oil industry planning new safety practices following Gulf of Mexico disaster

The Wall Street Journal got a look at a draft report from an industry task force.

“The recommendations, which are not final, include several safeguards that weren't in place aboard the Deepwater Horizon, the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf. Industry experts have said those safeguards might have prevented the disaster,” the Journal reports.

“Among the draft recommendations were remedies to several problems raised by The Wall Street Journal in recent articles. For example, the task force recommends the creation of a new group to study the use of acoustic switches, devices that can shut off the well via remote control in a disaster. The Journal reported that such switches routinely are used on rigs in Norway and Brazil but aren't standard in the Gulf of Mexico.”