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The presidential commission investigating the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe held hearings yesterday and Monday that have been archived on CSPAN.

Monday, September 28 hearings
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Commission Meeting, Environmental and Economic Effects 7:30 a.m. PT
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Commission Meeting, Regional Elected Officials 8:19 a.m. PT
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Commission Meeting, Gulf and Seafood Safety 12:12 p.m. ET
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Commission, Mississippi Delta Management 1:30 p.m. ET
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Commission Meeting, Funding and Restoration Management 10:55 p.m. PT
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Commission, Restoration Management 4:03 p.m. ET
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Commission, Public Comments 4:31 p.m. ET

Monday, September 27 hearings
Morning Session, National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling
Afternoon Session, National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling
Evening Session, National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling

The Justice Department is not going to revoke BP's probation for killing 15 workers at its Texas refinery. It seems that refusing to comply with improving safety and killing even more of your employees is behavior DOJ feels it should reward.

The Justice Department has decided not to revoke probation that the government had imposed on BP as part of an agreement to address safety violations at the company's Texas City refinery, site of a deadly 2005 explosion. The decision comes despite a government warning earlier this year that it might revoke the company's probation if BP failed to address the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s continuing concerns about safety at the refinery.

Since a blast at the refinery in 2005 killed 15 workers, BP has faced both criminal and civil actions for violations identified in investigations after the accident. As part of its plea agreement to resolve the criminal charges it faced after the 2005 blast, BP was given three years' probation.
In the two Justice Department letters, the government said that because BP paid the $50 million fine to OSHA last month and entered into a new agreement to address OSHA’s safety concerns at the refinery, the department would accept the terms of the new agreement, which gives BP until March 12, 2012 to meet the full requirements of the original settlement. According to the Justice Department letters, BP agreed with the government’s assessment.

Plans to restore Louisiana's coast will be presented in New Orleans.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is set to present the Obama administration's coastal restoration plan in New Orleans. Perhaps no state is more anxious to see what's in the plan than Louisiana, which has lost hundreds of square miles of coastal land in the last century.
The freshwater swamp that was once a buffer against hurricanes was dissected by a navigation channel linking the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico — a channel that turned out to be the speedway for Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters.
Still, despite the situation, Oliver Houck, an environmental law professor at Tulane University, says that Louisiana cannot claim to be a helpless victim.

"The Louisiana spin on it is: 'Look what oil and gas has done to us. You've got to come down here and help us' — when of course, Louisiana was totally complicit in what oil and gas did here," Houck says. "We invited them in. We rolled over. We gave them the minimum royalties, and we criticized and ripped to shreds anyone who complained about it. It's been aiding and abetting your own rape."
Houck says the state should have been making the oil and gas industry pay all along. Now, Louisiana is pushing legislation that would speed offshore revenue sharing with state governments — money intended for the federal budget until 2017.

President Obama endorses the Ray Mabus plan to restore the Gulf.

NEW ORLEANS — President Barack Obama endorsed a plan Tuesday to rehabilitate the Gulf of Mexico with some of the billions of dollars in water pollution fines expected from the companies responsible for the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the government's point person on Gulf coast restoration, also said some of the money could be used to repair sections of the Gulf ravaged by events other than the spill.

Mabus says it would be up to Congress to determine how much of fines to set aside for the overall restoration. Obama said he will ask Congress to dedicate the money.
Mabus is proposing that a panel be set up to administer any money set aside from the fines for coastal restoration. He said there should be a federal and state chair on the panel.

In Washington, Richard Stewart, who led the government's prosecution of Exxon for the Exxon Valdez incident, told the national oil spill commission Tuesday that criminal charges and stiff civil penalties will likely drive BP to settle. Stewart now teaches law at New York University.

A Justice Department official said that no settlement talks are taking place between the Obama administration and BP over fines for the spill, contradicting a congressman's suggestion earlier that such talks were taking place. The Justice Department official spoke on condition of anonymity because criminal and civil investigations of BP are continuing.

Obama is expected to sign an executive order soon to carry out another of the report's recommendations, setting up a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, which would coordinate the money and help decide which project are funded until Congress sets up a council. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson, a New Orleans native, will lead it

Bob Cavnar, MSNBC's oil expert, thinks the National Academy of Engineering will come up with the best answer as to the cause of the Macondo blowout.

At the request of the Department of Interior, the National Academy of Engineering formed a special committee to study the causes of the blowout of BP's Mississippi Canyon Block 252 well, dubbed Macondo.
You'll also recall that of the eight failures identified by BP as the causes of the blowout, BP only took partial responsibility for two, completely ignoring key issues such as casing design and circulation prior to the cement job.  BP's team, led by Mark Bly, BP Group Head of Safety and Operations, placed primary blame for the disaster on Transocean, Halliburton, and Weatherford.  Their conclusions, transferring blame to others rather than identifying the true causes, called the entire report into question.
This panel, stocked with engineers and scientists, is much more likely to come up with meaningful conclusions about the causes of the BP well blowout, as opposed to the President's commission, which is staffed with academicians, environmentalists, and politicians.  As I am watching this morning's hearings of the President's Commission in its third session, it is becoming even more clear as, so far, testimony focused on booming and skimming and flow rate, with little time spent by witness Doug Suttles on the subsea response or causes.  As opposed to the National Academy Engineering panel, the President's panel continues to focus on investigating what happened environmentally after the blowout as opposed to seeking out the actual causes of the blowout.
We're still a long way from being ready to safely operate in the deepwater, even though we will shortly resume operations.  Until new procedures and equipment are ready, it is  incumbent upon deepwater operators and their contractors to minimize risk through diligent operations and strict adherence to best practices.

Kert Davies blogs from Greenpeace's research mission in the Gulf of Mexico.

Here aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, we are continuing our three-month science mission in the Gulf of Mexico. We are floating about five miles north of the Deepwater Horizon well site, in water that would have been covered with oil a few months ago, where thousands of gallons of oil were skimmed and burned on the surface while an armada of boats and planes delivered daily bombardment with chemical dispersants that sunk the oil back underwater into the path of any unlucky sea creatures nearby.
We are at the frontier in a very industrialized body of water.  There are not many rigs farther south of here, yet, but many deepwater projects are planned for the Gulf of Mexico, by Shell, BP, Chevron, Exxon and others. To the north in shallower water, the Gulf is quite crowded, with some 3,500 active drilling rigs, 27,000 abandoned wells and hundreds of miles of pipeline lacing the bottom along the continental shelf from Texas to Alabama. I have been told that this is  the most industrialized portion of the ocean in the world. A sacrifice zone.
When I looked into the box core, I was effectively looking at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. I could see brownish gray mud, with small worm tubes sticking out occasionally. Below that is fine smooth gray clay, like you would make pots out of.  Over geologic time, this might turn into shale and slate.  We will conduct as many of these box core samples as we can at several locations around the Deepwater Horizon site over the next few days.  Teams of independent scientists have recently pulled up bottom samples near our location with oily residue on top using  similar devices.  And luckily, there is baseline data going back ten years for this area, before oil drilling was permitted this deep. After analysis onboard and back at the lab, the scientists will have a better understanding of the state of the ecosystem at the bottom, how it reacted to the oil spill.  This lab work will take some time.  As soon as possible we shall see and report what the scientists find.

There is a 25% increase in depression in Gulf according to Gallup.

A Gallup survey released Tuesday of almost 2,600 coastal residents showed that depression cases are up more than 25 percent since an explosion killed 11 people and unleashed a gusher of crude into the Gulf in April that ruined many livelihoods.

The conclusions were consistent with trends seen in smaller studies and witnessed by mental health workers.
The Gallup survey was conducted in 25 Gulf-front counties from Texas east to Florida over eight months before and after the spill, ending Aug. 6. People reported 25.6 percent more depression diagnoses after then spill than before it, although the study didn't conclude the additional cases were tied directly to the oil.
Sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, anger, substance abuse and domestic violence are among the most common problems reported by mental health agencies.
Even though the oil stopped flowing in July and the BP well was finally killed this month, some officials say the toll on mental health may get worse as the financial strains of summer persist into the fall.

==== ROV Feeds =====
20876/21507  - Development Driller II's ROV 1
32900/49178  - Development Driller II's ROV 2

41434/41436 - Olympic Challenger's ROV 1
40788/40789 - Olympic Challenger's ROV 2

39168/39169 - Chouest Holiday's ROV 1
40492/40493 - Chouest Holiday's ROV 2

47146/47147 - Development Driller III's ROV 1
43698/43699 - Development Driller III's ROV 2

==Multiple stream feeds (hard on browser/bandwidth)==

BP videos All the available directly feeds from BP.

Bobo's lightweight ROV Multi-feed: is the only additional up to date multiple feed site.

See this thread for more info on using video feeds and on linking to video feeds.

Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #396 - Gulf Watchers/peraspera
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #395 - Condition: transition - BP's Gulf Castastrophe - David PA
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #394 - Transitions - BP's Gulf Castastrophe - Lorinda Pike
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #393 - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - Lorinda Pike
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #392 - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - When Can we Share a Soda? - khowell
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #391 - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - Talking about Change - khowell
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #390 - Drips Redux - Lorinda Pike
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #389 - Night of the Living Drips - Lorinda Pike
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #388 - Sittin' Up With the Dead - khowell
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #387 - Time for a Wake? - khowell
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #386 - The Coroner Won't Pronounce - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - Yasuragi
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #385 - Is it Dead? - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - Lorinda Pike
The last Mothership has links to reference material.
Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.

Again, to keep bandwidth down, please do not post images or videos.

Originally posted to Gulf Watchers on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 03:06 AM PDT.

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