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<Update 7/6: High seas have disrupted testing of the "A Whale" oil skimmer, the Coast Guard reports.>

<Update 7/1: Speaking of whales, a number of whale sharks have been spotted in the oil spill area, which is particularly bad for them, as they are plankton eaters—meaning they sieve the oil-laden waters. The species is among six described as most threatened by the spill, according to AOL. Other species listed are sea turtles, bluefin tuna, sperm whales, dolphins and brown pelicans.>

A record described as "notorious" in a USA Today headline is being reached today in the Gulf of Mexico as BP's oil spill tops the estimated 140-million-gallon mark. The previous record Gulf spill was 139 million gallons in the 1979 spill off Mexico's coast—but it took a year of gushing to get there. BP's spill has been gushing from its blown-out well since April 20 at up to 2.4 million gallons a day.

Even as that unhappy record is being achieved, the federal government has brought on scene the latest attempt to clean up the oil. A monster skimmer ship—3 1/2 football fields long and 10 stories high and named the "A Whale"—chugged in today, especially equipped to skim as much as 21 million gallons of oiled water per day—if the EPA gives the go ahead. The ship has never been tested.

<Update 7/1: All BP oil spill cleanup and containment efforts are on hold as wind and waves from the former Hurricane Alex push through the oil spill area. Although the storm stayed 600 miles to the west, it still had enough punch to not only stop the cleanup but actually push oil deeper into coastal wetlands and onto beaches.>

This past weekend I gathered with my neighbors at a nearby beach to attend a local Hands Across the Sand event, a worldwide effort to oppose offshore drilling and champion clean and renewable energy. The movement began, eerily enough, in Florida. Just a few months before the tragic BP oil spill, thousands of Floridians joined hands to protest the local and national governments' efforts to lift the ban on oil drilling off the shores of Florida.

While oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico from BP's blown-out well, a six-month offshore drilling moratorium imposed by the Obama administration is being argued in the courts.

Last week, oil industry groups got a New Orleans judge to issue an order blocking the moratorium. The administration is appealing that decision—assisted by the intervention of Earthjustice—at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

<Update: BP has replaced the containment cap on its damaged Gulf oil well, after it had been removed the day before to be inspected, according to AP.>

Oil is once more gushing almost unrestricted into the Gulf of Mexico, after an apparent undersea accident today forced BP to remove the cap which has allowed the company to capture much of the oil that has been escaping from its damaged well.

According to various media reports, a remote operated submersible bumped the cap's vent, disrupting the system set up three weeks. This is just the latest in a series of mishaps thwarting BP's attempts to close the well after an explosion ruptured the wellhead more than two months ago.

According to reports in both the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, the removed cap is being inspected for any signs of hydrates formation, which can plug the cap. There was no estimate of when the cap might be replaced. A second oil removal system, that takes away up to 10,000 barrels a day and burns it off, is still operating. Total estimated outflow from the well is up to 60,000 barrels daily.
 

Yesterday a federal district judge granted a request by oil industry groups and blocked a six month moratorium on new offshore oil drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico put in place by the Obama administration. The judge ruled that the administration moved too fast and overreacted when it decided to stop deep offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Now that human technology has failed to keep oil out of Gulf coast wetlands, some scientists think the solution lies with one of nature's most ancient techniques—flooding of the Mississippi River.

The scientists have concluded that powerful river flows kept oil from the BP/Gulf spill from invading large areas of wetlands. But as winter runoff diminished, so too did the river flow, and now oil is making a destructive invasion. The strong flow could be restored, however, by simply adjusting dams upstream that are diverting water out of the river bed.

<Update: The EPA has revealed the chemical ingredients list of what's in the dispersant being put on oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico. Earthjustice sought the information through the Freedom of Information Act.>

Here in Florida, the oil spill calamity in the Gulf of Mexico is poised to undo years and years of our hard work to keep Florida's waters clean. That is a sobering and devastating fact.

Some top stories from the past week at Earthjustice…

This week, Earthjustice scored a big victory for our lungs with the announcement that the EPA is finally abandoning a dangerous rule—granted by the Bush administration—that would permit the unregulated burning of hazardous waste.

BP's latest effort to clean up its soiled image took it into even murkier waters after the oil giant recently began buying search terms like "oil spill" on Google and Yahoo search engines so that the company's official web site would be the first link to appear on a search page.

Amidst a vote on Sen. Murkowski's (R-AK) resolution to bail out big polluters, Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen called on the Senate to put aside partisan politics and protect the American people by voting against this bill. Thankfully, the Senate has voted 53-47 against the bill.

Campaign manager Brian Smith reported on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's recent announcement of a memorandum of understanding to establish the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium, which has the goal of tapping into the estimated 1 million megawatts of potential wind power that exists off the east coast.

Earthjustice was curious to know just what's in all of those chemical dispersants that we're dropping into the Gulf of Mexico by the millions of gallons, so we filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get more information. Here's what we found (hint: it's not good).

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