After a seemingly endless series of bad news, BP is installing what could be the final sealant cap to plug the estimated 60,000 barrels of oil gushing each day into the Gulf of Mexico. The previous cap stopped about 15-16,000 barrels a day, which flowed unfettered over the weekend after BP removed the old cap to make way for the new one.
A blog post today on the New York Times web site addresses a growing conflict between local officials on the Gulf Coast and the Army Corps of Engineers. Local officials, led by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, claim the Army Corps is shutting down their plans to mitigate the effects of the spill without offering any solutions. The Army Corps, yet to regain the trust of New Orleanians after Hurricane Katrina, rejected a plan to dump 100,000-plus tons of limestone into Barataria Bay, an estuary leading from the Gulf to New Orleans through a web of inlets. The Army Corps claims this plan will ultimately be more destructive than the spill, since it will exacerbate already-occurring erosion. But local government officials feel frustrated and hamstrung, unable to act.
In the meantime, as BP promises to cap the leak and local officials struggle to find common ground with the federal government, people living in all the Gulf Coast states are feeling grave repercussions, economically and emotionally. A heart-wrenching story in the St. Petersburg Times details the immediate lifestyle changes being felt by residents of Pensacola, Florida. In one particularly poignant analogy, Times writer Craig Pittman quotes coastal geologist and Florida resident James "Rip" Kirby III: "When your entire way of life is built around seeing how the seasons change here, the things you do here, the things you eat, that's the reason you live here -- and all of that is dying slowly before your eyes. It's like checking an elderly relative into a rest home and knowing they're not going to come out."
Click here for a series of blog posts on various aspects of the oil spill from ProPublica.