First, the no-surprise: we’re now hearing that the spill is 95,000 barrels a day, not 5000 barrels a day (remember that one barrel contains 42 gallons of oil). The original 5000 barrel figure was first cited by BP and then passed along by the government. The low-ball estimate could well have been a deliberate attempt by the folks at BP to gain a legal edge in any future damage claims brought against them. No surprise there. Unfortunately for them, the underwater video and emerging satellite imagery reveal a far more devastating–make that catastrophic–spill than they were first willing to admit.
Now for the surprise: McClatchy reports that the Obama administration has granted at least 27 waivers to oil companies that would exempt them from conducting environmental impact studies in exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico. The waivers have all been granted since the oil rig explosion. The waivers come during a time when the official White House rhetoric has insisted on slowing down and halting all further offshore exploration and drilling.