Archive for May 25th, 2010

Folks in Florida have been reporting oil smell and a black oily substance in the rain which is probably benzene from evaporation of the crude oil.

Benzene, which was encountered in the Exxon Valdez oil spill, was responsible for detrimental health effects on clean up workers who were among the 32,000 fishermen and Alaska Natives who had been waiting for nearly 20 years to hear whether Exxon Mobil Corp. would have to pay punitive damages for grounding the tanker on Bligh Reef and spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the fishing waters of Prince William Sound.

By ERIKA BOLSTAD / Anchorage Daily News

Published: June 26th, 2008 12:25 AM

WASHINGTON — In a victory for corporations seeking to limit big-dollar lawsuits, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday sharply reduced the $2.5 billion in punitive damages awarded in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. An Anchorage jury originally set the award at $5 billion in 1994, but that was cut in half on appeal. The court reduced the award to $507.5 million.

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FBI Files Show More Threats On Members Of Congress


Justin Elliott | May 25, 2010, 8:31AM

Politico adds several more names to the growing list of members of Congress who have recently received death threats over political positions.

FBI documents from closed cases show members of both parties — but more Dems than Republicans — received threats in 2009.

Politico reports:

I voted for you,” the caller said in a voice mail to Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler’s district office. “If you vote for that stimulus package, I’m gonna kill you. Simple as that.” …Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) were threatened with assassination. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) were threatened with bodily harm. Someone told Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) that her throat would be cut. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) was told someone would physically “f— her up” if she held a town hall meeting in her district, according to the FBI files.

Check out our guide to previous threats here.

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Gulf Oil Spill: Frustration Mounts As Congress Can’t Even Get BP’s Liability Cap Raised

Huff Post- Sam Stein- First Posted: 05-25-10 10:25 AM   |   Updated: 05-25-10 10:25 AM

It’s been more than three weeks since Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) unveiled a proposal to raise the liability cap to $10 billion for oil companies involved in economically damaging offshore spills. And despite two efforts to pass the legislation through the Senate, the backing of the president and an ever-dire crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, there currently exists no clear path forward for getting the idea into law.

Under normal circumstances, the inaction would be chalked up to the normal lethargy of the Senate chamber. Three weeks, after all, is a relative blip in a legislative calendar that often sees bills and nominations debated well beyond that. But disasters — such as the expanding oil spill in the Gulf — usually spur quick, populist-stoked legislative action. The mere fact that Congress has been unable to accomplish something as politically obvious as asking companies like BP to pay more for the spills they create has some on the Hill shaking their heads.

“Beyond anything else,” said one Senate Democratic aide, “it’s frustrating.”

The failure to pass Menendez’s proposal has become symbolic, in no small way, of what Democratic strategist James Carville described as a “lackadaisical” response to the crisis as a whole. As with the government’s efforts to stop the flow of leaking oil, top Senate Democratic aides insist that they are utilizing all the available tools to get the liability cap raise into law. So far, two unanimous consent agreements to pass the bill have failed after a single Republican senator expressed objections — worried, they say, that the higher liability would make it prohibitively expensive for smaller oil companies to drill in the Gulf.

Democrats in the Senate have pledged to keep pushing for votes. But, as one top aide, noted, with leadership planning to consider a war supplemental bill, a tax extenders bill, judicial nominees and so on, time is getting tight. Senator Menendez is set to brief reporters on the matter Tuesday afternoon. And it would not come as a surprise if, in addition to bashing GOP opposition, he unveils a plan to introduce his bill as an amendment to a larger piece of legislation.


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