Jul 7, 2010 4:16 PM by Melissa Canone

Day 78 of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill

A summary of events Wednesday, July 7, Day 78 of the Gulf of
Mexico oil spill that began with the April 20 explosion and fire on
the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and
leased by BP PLC, which is in charge of cleanup and containment.
The blast killed 11 workers. Since then, oil has been pouring into
the Gulf from a blown-out undersea well.

Religious leaders who see environmental activism or "creation
care" as a religious duty are visiting the Gulf of Mexico, viewing
regions hit by oil from the spill and hoping to win converts for
their cause. Members of a loose coalition of religious groups
committed to environmentalism see the spill as a chance for an
ecological Great Awakening, but doubts persist in the region.
Loyalty to the oil and gas industries make the preachers' message a
hard sell for many believers.

The federal government is seeking to have a court reinstate a
moratorium on deepwater drilling. In a filing with the U.S. 5th
Circuit Court of Appeals, the government argued for the reversal of
a judge's ruling that the Interior Department failed to provide
adequate reasoning for the six-month halt to drilling. A lawsuit
against the moratorium was filed by Hornbeck Offshore, an oil field
service company that claims it would have severe economic

Roughly 420 birds harmed by oil have been found on the coasts of
Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, according to Ken Rice, director
of wildlife rescue in those states. About 190 of the birds were
found dead. The species hit the hardest has been the Northern
Gannet, which spends most of its life over open seas. Other birds
impacted include Brown Pelicans, terns, loons and shore birds. A
substantial number of birds harmed by oil are never found, Rice

The U.S. Attorney General's office has asked BP for advance
notice of any asset sales or significant cash transfers, the
company said. Normally, the Justice Department doesn't require
advance notification of such deals. The letter, from U.S. Assistant
Attorney General Tony West, underscores the federal government's
intense scrutiny of BP as it struggles to cap the leak in the Gulf.
A company spokeswoman said BP will respond "in due course."

Choppy seas held up oil skimming operations all along the Gulf
coast, although boats off Louisiana's shoreline hoped to be back at
work before the day ended. In Mobile, Coast Guard Cmdr. Chuck
Diorio said waves were seven feet off the sea buoy in places, well
above the four feet that serves as the upper limit for most
skimmers. Rough waves have halted offshore skimming in Mississippi,
Florida and Louisiana for over a week.

Deck hands and other day laborers in the Gulf region who get
paid in cash and may not file tax returns are struggling to prove
the oil spill has hurt them financially. For its claims process, BP
requests tax returns for 2007 through 2009, but is willing to work
with other documents such as deposit slips and wage loss
statements. Many day laborers, though, are fearful of coming
forward because of their murky status and past refusal to file
income tax returns, attorney Stuart Smith said.


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