They made their way to Lake Pontchartrain, the vast estuarine oval that hems New Orleans to the north and defines the city's character and destiny as much as the winding Mississippi River a few miles south.
By Tuesday, cleanup crews had collected more than 1,020 pounds of tar balls and waste from the lake and the Rigolets, the strait connecting Pontchartrain to Lake Borgne and the Gulf of Mexico.
It was a relatively small smudge for a 630-square-mile lake, and it will not pose a direct public health problem: New Orleans gets its drinking water from the Mississippi River.
... two of the judges on the appeals court panel, Jerry E. Smith and W. Eugene Davis, both appointed by President Ronald Reagan, had represented the oil and gas industries while in private practice. ...
Judge Daviss 2008 financial disclosure reports listed $2,000 to $30,000 in investments in gas and oil concerns; Judge Smith had none.
The third judge on the panel, James L. Dennis, appointed by President Bill Clinton, had investments in at least 18 energy companies valued at between $31,000 and $300,000, the group found. Judge Dennis sold a stake in Transocean, the company that was drilling the well under contract to BP, in 2006, according to financial disclosure reports compiled by the group.
It was clear again from todays court arguments that the Secretary of the Interior ignored the advice of his own experts. The Secretarys six-month moratorium was not related to the facts provided by his own hand-selected experts. Indeed, the Judge in the original case said the Department of Interiors report to shut down deepwater drilling was inaccurate and misleading. He said the Departments statement that their reports recommendations were peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering was misleading and that five of the National Academy experts and three of the other experts have publicly stated that they do not agree with the six month blanket moratorium.
The arguments at todays hearing continue to show that the Administrations six-month blanket moratorium was both arbitrary and capricious. The reality is that we absolutely want drilling to be done safely and do not want another spill or one more drop of oil on our coast or in our water, but thousands of Louisianians should not have to lose their jobs because the federal government cant adequately do its job of ensuring drilling is done safely. The hearing today showed again that there is no clear pathway from the federal government about how to increase the safety of drilling.
The federal government has an entire agency dedicated to monitoring safe drilling. It shouldnt take them six-months or longer for a new national commission to ensure safety measures are in place and their laws and regulations are being followed. Instead of an arbitrary moratorium, the Department of Interior should have listened to their experts and enacted the specific recommended steps from their own experts to ensure proper oversight and safe drilling.
Unfortunately, there are serious job losses that will result from the six-month deepwater drilling moratorium which is estimated to kill 20,000 Louisiana jobs and cost us between $65 to 135 million in lost Louisiana wages each month. The reality is that the moratorium not only threatens jobs on oil rigs, but it also jeopardizes many other industries that supply our oil and gas industry and the entire communities that depend on them.