B-P Working on “Top Kill”

By Libby Casey

Oil company B-P is trying to plug the gushing spill in the Gulf of Mexico right now by forcing drilling mud into the well.  The “top kill” method aims to counteract the oil pressure so B-P can seal the well-head with cement.  It’s considered a critical attempt to plug the hole, which has been pumping crude into the Gulf for more than a month.

B-P has given it a 60 to 70 percent chance of working.  Today Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told Congress that the Obama Administration has top scientists and officials closely monitoring what’s going on.

The fervent hope of everyone is that top kill effort, that that will work.  But there is also the possibility it will not work.  And if doesn’t work then there is Plan B to move forward with a cap on well that hopefully will result in controlling of pollution that continues to spew out into the Gulf Coast.

Salazar testified today before the House Natural Resources Committee.  Dozens of Congressmen were on hand at the high-profile, lengthy hearing, but Alaska’s committee member Representative Don Young only stayed for 40 minutes, and did not ask Secretary Salazar any questions or make any statements.  His office said he instead had “meetings with constituents.”

Other members of Congress, mostly Democrats, questioned the wisdom of going ahead with offshore drilling in the Arctic this summer… Shell plans exploratory wells in July.  The White House has called for a temporary time-out on new projects until Secretary Salazar delivers a report to President Obama – which he plans to do tomorrow.

Salazar reminded members of Congress today that two months ago Obama did roll back the Bush Administration’s plans for more extensive drilling off Alaska because of environmental concerns.

It was precisely because we were attempting to strike those kinds of balances that we said Bristol Bay in Alaska was a place that was too important to be developed, so it should be taken off the development map and we said that, the President said that.  It’s precisely because of your kind of concerns that we don’t know enough yet about the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to allow further leasing in the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea up in the Arctic

But Salazar has stayed tight-lipped about what will happen with the drilling plans still scheduled to go forward  in the Arctic this summer.  He said today that changes may be in the works:

With respect to the five exploratory wells in the arctic that are under the approved exploration plans, they’re being examined, and adjustments will be made in the days or weeks ahead that will address that particular issue.

Salazar has said more decisions will be made after he delivers the 30 day report to President Obama tomorrow.


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