Timeline by Dave Gilson, senior editor, Mother Jones. Check back for regular updates. Follow our ongoing coverage of the oil spill at http://motherjones.com/category/primary-tags/bp
Created by mojodave on May 27, 2010
Last updated: 06/02/10 at 05:21 PM
Tags: BP oil spill environment drilling deepwater louisiana obama
Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department was launching criminal and civil probes into the BP spill.
BP CEO Tony Hayward says, "The oil is on the surface. There aren't any plumes."
BP and Coast Guard announce that the top-kill procedure has failed. The company had given it a 60-70% chance of success.
President Obama heads back to the Louisiana coast to review efforts to stop the leak and clean up the spill. "BP is the responsible party for this disaster," he says. "I ultimately take responsibility for solving this crisis. I'm the president and the buck stops with me."
BP CEO Tony Hayward says that the latest attempt to stop the leak is ""going pretty well according to plan."
A federal team concludes that the rupture is leaking as much as 1,050,000 gallons of oil a day—more than five times the estimate that was being given a month earlier. By those estimates, the Deepwater spill is already twice the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.
President Obama extended a federal moratorium on new offshore drilling by six months.
S. Elizabeth Birnbaum resigns as the head of the Minerals Management Service.
A second underwater plume from the Deepwater leak is discovered. The 22-mile plume appeared to be heading toward the Alabama coast.
At a press conference, President Obama defends the administration's response to the disaster. "Those who think we were either slow on the response or lacked urgency, don’t know the facts," he says. "This has been our highest priority."
BP begins its "top kill" efforts to plug the ruptured well. The procedure, which involves pumping fluid to stop the leak, has never been attempted at this depth.
The Interior Department’s Inspector General releases an investigation of MMS’ Lake Charles, Louisiana, office that details how employees traded porn links, took meth, and partied on oil companies' dime. The report cited evidence that MMS inspectors gave preferential treatment to friends in the oil industry and even allowed oil rig workers to fill out their own federal inspection forms.
President Obama appoints former Flordia Senator Bob Graham and former EPA head William Reilly to head a bipartisan commission that will look into the spill's causes and recommend the "precautions we need to take to avoid a similar disaster from happening again."
Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) posts live footage of the underwater leak.
The Environmental Protection demands that BP start using less-toxic alternatives to the chemical dispersants it's been spraying in the Gulf.
NOAA expands its no-fishing zone to include 46,000 square miles of the Gulf.
At a Senate hearing on the spill, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says, "We are in the middle of this crisis...We've been at it a month almost, but we are not near the end."
BP says approximately 210,000 gallons of oil are spilling into the Gulf per day. Other experts put the real figure at 1 million to 3 million gallons a day.
BP chief executive Tony Hayward tells the Guardian, "The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume."
BP tries a new approach, using a tube to divert oil from the ruptured well.
Energy Secretary Chu visits BP’s command center in Houston. He says he that "things are looking up," and that he feels "more comfortable than I was a week ago" with efforts to contain the spill.
Executives from BP, Transocean, and Halliburton testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. BP America president and chairman Lamar McKay blames Transocean (owner of the Deepwater rig) for having a faulty blowout preventer, the technology that should have shut the well. Transocean CEO Steven Newman fingered Halliburton, which was contracted to pour the cement for the well.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar calls on Congress to split the Minerals Management Service into two agencies. he also calls for expanding environmental and safety review periods for proposed oil drilling.
BP says that the containment dome placed over the leak is not working and it is removed.
BP lowers a 90-ton containment dome over the ruptured well, hoping to capture the leaking oil.
BP successfully caps a small underwater leak.
"There were good reasons for us to put in offshore drilling, and this terrible accident is very rare in drilling," Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) tells reporters. "I mean, accidents happen. You learn from them and you try to make sure they don't happen again."
BP buys up more than a third of the world's supply of dispersants, chemical substances used to break up and sink oil to prevent it from hitting land. The components of these chemicals and their potential impacts on marine ecosystems are unknown.
The oil slick hits barrier islands off Louisiana's southeast coast.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shuts down all commercial and recreational fishing in affected areas of the Gulf of Mexico for at least 10 days.
BP CEO Tony Hayward says his company will pay for the spill's cleanup. "It is indeed BP's responsibility to deal with this and we're dealing with it," he tells NPR.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar pledges to "keep the boot on the neck" of BP to get it to fully address the spill.
President Obama travels to the Gulf Coast to meet with officials coordinating the response to the spill. "Your government will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to stop this crisis," he says. Plus: "BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill."
On Good Morning America, White House advisor David Axelrod says, "All [Obama] has said is that he is not going to continue the moratorium on drilling but...no additional drilling has been authorized and none will until we find out what happened here and whether there was something unique and preventable here."
Oil is spotted three miles from the Louisiana coast. Governor Bobby Jindal declares a state of emergency.
Coast Guard Rear Admiral Landry, who is overseeing the federal response on the scene, says, "BP, from Day 1, has attempted to be very responsive and be a very responsible spiller."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says, "The president still continues to believe the great majority of that can be done safely, securely, and without any harm to the environment."
An Interior Department official says that the spill could continue for up to 90 days. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Sally Brice O'Hare says it is "prepared for the worst case."
Democratic Senators Bill Nelson, Frank Lautenberg, and Robert Menendez call for an investigation into offshore drilling and a reevaluation of the Coast Guard and NOAA's resources to deal with emergencies.
Oil appears on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico; officials say it covers 600 square miles. The leak is estimated to be releasing 42,000 gallons a day.
Remote controled robots unsuccessfully attempt to activate the rig's blow-out preventer and stop the leak.
An oil leak is discovered 5,000 feet beneath the site of the Deepwater Horizon. Early estimates say it could take two weeks to fix.
36 hours after the explosion that killed 11 crew members, the Deepwater Horizon rig sinks. The pipe connecting the rig to its underwater well breaks.
At around 10PM, a fire and explosion occur on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, 52 miles off the coast of Louisiana. 11 crew members are killed.
BP's Deepwater Horizon rig finishes drilling its well into an oil deposit under the Gulf of Mexico, 50 miles from Louisiana.
The Deepwater Horizon rig passes its third federal inspection since January
President Obama announces that the administration "will consider potential areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico" for new oil exploration. He calls for "the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration, but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America's natural resources."
BP's Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible oil rig begins drilling in 5,000 feet of water off the coast of Louisiana.
In his State of the Union, President Obama talks about the need to make "tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development."
The Offshore Operators Committee sends MMS a PowerPoint presentation that poses the question, "What Do HURRICANES and New Rules Have in Common?" Its answer: "Both are disruptive to Operations And are costly to Recover From."