Shelby to participate in oil spill hearing

Published 2:34 pm Thursday, May 6, 2010

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby has asked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco to help assess the short- and long-term impact the oil spill will have on the Gulf Coast’s ecosystem and economy.

In his letter, Shelby raised concerns about the 190,000 gallons of dispersants, or chemicals used by BP so far to break up the oil leak in the Gulf.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today that two U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittees will hold a hearing Tuesday on the role of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in reducing the environmental risks to marine and coastal ecosystems. The hearing is also supposed to pay attention to the effects of dispersants.

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Jonathan Graffeo, a spokesman for Shelby, said the senator will participate in a hearing Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. (CDT) of the full Environment and Public Works Committee.

The committee expects to hear from several corporations involved in the spill, including BP, Halliburton and Transocean; experts on the impacts to local economies, fisheries, tourism, wildlife and natural resources; and senators from the coastal states. A specific list of witnesses is unavailable currently. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is chair of the committee.

More than 200,000 gallons of oil a day continues to pour from the well after the Deepwater Horizon rig Exploded April 10, killing 11 workers.

Meanwhile, oil from the leaking well washed ashore in the southeastern Chandeleur Islands of Louisiana, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The sheen from that oil was described by reporters Cain Burdeau and Harry R. Weber for The Associated Press at New Harbor Island as “a pinkish oily substance.”

“It looked like soggy cornflakes, possibly because it was mixed with chemicals that it had been sprayed to break it up before it reached land,” the AP reporters said.

The islands off the Louisiana coast are part of a national wildlife refuge.

Crews will lower a 100-ton box to attempt to cut off most of the oil gushing from the blown-out well. The box, or cofferdam, is onboard the vessel Joe Griffin in the Gulf.