So, here's the Gulf of Mexico oil situation after a weekend of struggles to stem the flood of oil, assessing where all the spilled oil has gone and what it's doing, and preparing for the immediate future.
After facing a president's wrath today over a drilling operation gone catastrophically awry, British Petroleum now has only two weeks before Mother Nature's annual hurricane season arrives in the Gulf of Mexico.
<Update: Today, President Obama endorsed a plan to radically reorganize the federal Minerals Management Services agency because of its conflict-of-interest relationship with the oil industry. The MMS collects billions of dollars in royalties from oil companies it is supposed to regulate.
After passing blame for the Gulf oil spill during congressional hearings earlier this week, the head of British Petroleum is now accepting some—admitting that his company wasn't prepared to handle a spill that continues to pour 210,000 gallons of oil each day. <See the undersea video of leaking oil.>
Today—three long weeks into an oil spill that threatens ecological and economic disaster in the Gulf of Mexico—federal officials probing the accident seemed both angry and incredulous at what they were being told, The New York Times reports.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said at his committee's hearing on the accident:
<Update: Environmental groups are hopeful that public outrage over the Gulf oil spill strengthens a green movement towards more sustainable living.>
Public opinion is sharply reflecting three weeks of un-staunched oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Less than half of Americans now support offshore oil drilling—a huge drop from the days of "drill, baby, drill"—according to a new CBS poll.
Polling indicates a swing from 64 percent favorable to offshore drilling to only 46 percent now. Forty-one percent of those polled say the costs and risks of drilling are too great. Previously, only 28 percent held that position.
Congress can only hope to have as much luck drilling into oil industry executives this week as those executives did in drilling the Gulf of Mexico on April 20. Starting tomorrow, three congressional hearings will start looking into the oil rig explosion that caused a massive, continuing oil spill.
The oil unstoppably pouring out of the Gulf of Mexico's sea floor is now unstoppable as it pushes past efforts to keep it out of wetlands. Over the weekend, thick, tarry blobs rode the tide into wildlife refuge areas of the Mississippi delta. It took 12 days, but the invasion has arrived. <Update: A land/sea/air effort to keep oil out of Louisiana wetlands has been assembled today, The Miami Herald reports.>
<Updates: Oil damage to gulf coast wetlands and wildlife spawning areas could last generations, the Christian Science Monitor reports. "The Gulf appears to be bleeding," exclaims an observer as he flies over the spilled oil. See his 5-minute video report.>
Meanwhile, offshore, British Petroleum still can't find a way to staunch the leak which has put an estimated 3.5 millions of oil into Gulf waters since BP's well rig exploded April 20. After the containment dome attempt failed over the weekend, BP is hoping to plug the gusher with old tires, golf balls and who knows what else. It will be perhaps three months before a relief well is finished.