Oil sheen is seen Saturday in the waters off Barataria Bay west of Port Sulpher, Louisiana. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Washington (CNN) - A BP estimate made after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon noted that as much as 100,000 barrels per day could leak into the ocean if the blowout preventer and wellhead were removed, a higher worst-case scenario than previously reported.
According to an internal BP document released Sunday by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, BP believed that the worst-case scenario could be as high as 100,000 barrels, or 4.2 million gallons of oil per day.
The figure is the highest yet to surface regarding the leaking oil well. At the disaster's outset, BP claimed the leak was about 1,000 barrels a day, a number it later revised to 5,000 and then much higher. BP told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the worst-case scenario was 60,000 barrels (2.5 million gallons) a day, lower than what the document states.
The document, submitted in May, maintains the 60,000 barrel estimate, but stipulates that if the "blowout preventer and wellhead are removed and if we have incorrectly modeled the restrictions, the rate could be as high as 100,000 barrels a day."
Markey said the document "raises very troubling questions about what BP knew and when they knew it."
"It is clear that, from the beginning, BP has not been straightforward with the government or the American people about the true size of this spill," said Markey, the chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
"Considering what is now known about BP's problems with this well prior to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, including cementing issues, leaks in the blowout preventer and gas kicks, BP should have been more honest about the dangerous condition of the well bore," Markey said in a statement.
BP spokesman Robert Wine said the May estimate cited in Markey's document is irrelevant to the current situation because the oil company has no intention of removing the well's blowout preventer.
"The allegation doesn't make sense," Wine told CNN. "Why on earth would we remove the blowout preventer when it's sitting on top of the sea well and providing some control (of the spill)?"
Toby Odone, another spokesman for BP, added that the blowout preventer will be removed only when the well is completely killed.
Updated 5:15 p.m.
After an eight-month hiatus from Sunday Morning talk, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel speaks. Despite all the hefty issues floating through the White House, he remains an aficionado of raw politics. Ratcheting up the political noise over Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) apology to BP, Emanuel said Barton’s now retracted words were “not a political gaffe… (but) a philosophy.”
As close as Democrats try to tie all Republicans to Barton’s remarks, that’s how far away Republicans want to get.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska): “The statement that Representative Barton made was wrong. Absolutely wrong.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky): “I couldn’t disagree with Joe Barton more.”
Coming soon to a campaign trail near you.
In the 62 days since 11 men were killed on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig, more than 70 members of the U.S. military were killed in Afghanistan. Taking stock of the war, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Chairwoman, Senate Intelligence Committee) called Afghanistan a “difficult situation.” Sen. Richard Lugar says the question is what’s the mission, …”the President is going to have to redefine the plan.
Amid signs that June may be the deadliest month so far this year in Afghanistan and against the backdrop of a U.N. report saying roadside bomb attacks in Afghanistan are up 94 percent in the first four months of this year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates blames the media and argues that people are “losing context.” Gates says the plan to begin withdrawing troops in 2011 still stands.
To all Dads, wherever you are this day, Happy Father’s Day.
Washington (CNN) - A top Democrat kept up the Joe Barton drumbeat Sunday, saying the Republican legislator's defense of BP last week was an example of GOP ideology that favors big business.
Republicans seeking to change the subject countered that the nation's focus should be on efforts to stop the Gulf oil gusher and critcized the Obama administration for failing to make that happen.
The statement last Thursday by Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas - which was quickly retracted under pressure from House GOP leadership - provided Democrats an opportunity to deflect growing public disenchantment with how the government was responding to the oil disaster.
Acknowledging the political gift handed to his party by Barton, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told the ABC program "This Week" that Barton's comment and other pro-BP statements by Republicans including Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul would be a factor in the November congressional elections.
"In case you forgot what Republican governance is like, Joe Barton reminded you," Emanuel said, calling Barton's comments a "philosophy" that considered BP the "aggrieved party" instead of the oil giant responsible for the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
"These aren't political gaffes - Joe Barton was speaking from prepared remarks," Emanuel said, calling the comment reflective of a GOP approach that considers the government to be the problem, not BP.
However, a statement later Sunday from the House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans said Barton spoke off the cuff. The statement included what it said were his prepared remarks, which made no mention of an apology to BP or criticism of the fund the company created to pay for damages from the oil
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of oil-rich Alaska also challenged Emanuel's comments, telling the CNN program "State of the Union" that the White House chief of staff was wrong.
Updated: 2:43 p.m.
Washington (CNN) – A leading Republican on energy policy issues said Sunday that a compromise proposal for instituting a partial cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions was a political non-starter in the Senate’s highly partisan atmosphere. Instead, Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski suggested that an energy bill that lacked cap-and-trade provisions could garner 60 votes and would begin to lay the groundwork for achieving the goal of reducing carbon emissions.
Speaking earlier on CNN’s State of the Union, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, was open to considering a proposal that would forgo an economy-wide carbon cap-and-trade system in favor of such a system applicable only to energy utilities. Lieberman told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley that, by his estimation, there are currently 50 senators who favor a comprehensive cap across the entire economy and roughly another 20 senators who are undecided, a situation that leaves the door open to garnering the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster.
But, appearing just after Lieberman on the broadcast, Murkowski, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said a carbon cap limited to just the energy utility sector was not likely to pass in the Senate.
“It still puts you in the world of cap-and-trade,” she told Crowley. “And this is where we just simply have not been able to get to 60.”
Sounding a frequent GOP rejoinder on the issue of cap-and-trade, Murkowski said instituting a system that puts a price tag on carbon emissions could cost U.S. jobs at a time when the economy is still struggling.
She also told Crowley, “I don't think that there is the political ability to put a price on carbon, as we're speaking [today]. There is nothing out there that, I believe, gains the acceptance of folks to get to 60, to make an energy policy that is workable.”
Instead of the bill championed by Lieberman and Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, Murkowski backs an alternative that does not include cap-and-trade provisions. She said the alternative bill was a step in the right direction even though it does not meet President Obama’s call for a comprehensive energy bill that includes a far reaching cap-and-trade system.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama would veto a military bill that contains spending for programs he opposes, even if the measure also included a provision to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning openly gay and lesbian soldiers from military service, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in an interview broadcast Sunday.
Asked on "FOX News Sunday" about the matter, Gates said Obama was opposed to any move by Congress to fund the C-17 cargo plane or an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
"It would be a very serious mistake to believe that the president would not veto a bill that has the C-17 or the alternative engine in it just because it had other provisions that the president and the administration want," Gates said.
When pushed on whether Obama would veto the bill even if it also included the repeal plan for "don't ask, don't tell," Gates said "I think so."
Washington (CNN) - The top-ranking Senate Republican refused Sunday to rule out a filibuster against Elena Kagan's confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told "FOX News Sunday" it was possible that Republicans would try to prevent a vote on Kagan's nomination when the issue comes before the chamber. The Senate Judiciary Committee begins hearings on the nomination June 28.
"I have never filibustered a Supreme Court nominee," McConnell said. "It is possible, but entirely too early to know whether that would be appropriate."
Previously, other Republican senators had indicated a filibuster against Kagan was unlikely. McConnell, however, would only say it was too soon to determine the possibility.
"The option is open under the Senate procedures, but to predict that that might happen at this stage of the game is entirely premature," McConnell said.
Kagan is President Barack Obama's second nominee to the nation's highest court. Last year, the Senate confirmed his first, Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
If confirmed, Kagan would take the seat of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
Washington (CNN) – Echoing President Obama’s Oval Office address to the nation last week, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, said Sunday that a comprehensive energy bill can be done during this midterm election year. Lieberman added that he hoped the Gulf oil spill would help motivate lawmakers to support the controversial legislation.
Speaking Tuesday, Obama called the Gulf oil disaster "the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now."
Asked about energy legislation Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Lieberman said a bill “does have a chance and it needs to be done.”
Lieberman, one of two principal architects of an energy bill that includes a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, also suggested that support for his bill is about 10 senators shy of the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster.
“There are about 50 senators who want to vote for a strong, comprehensive energy bill that puts a price on carbon pollution,” Lieberman told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “There are about 30 who are set against it and there are 20 undecided. You’ve got to get to 60 to pass anything in the Senate. We need half of the undecided and we can do it.”
The senator added, “And we’ve got to do it. And I hope the spill in the Gulf will motivate us to do it. Because the less we depend on oil, the less chance there is of another environmental disaster like this.”
Asked about a competing bill that does not include a comprehensive cap-and-trade system, Lieberman expressed some openness to a compromise floated by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that would impose a carbon cap only on the energy utilities across the country.
“Yes, I’d like to look at that,” Lieberman said, though he was quick to defend the concept of an economy-wide cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions.
(CNN) - American-born al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn appears in a new video purportedly from the organization, calling President Barack Obama "snakelike" and saying he is "running the affairs of a declining and besieged empire."
In the video, posted Sunday on Islamist websites, Gadahn criticizes what he says is the United States' "aggression and interference" in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and also criticized moving his "captive brothers" from detention centers worldwide to "Muslim-only concentration camps in Illinois, Bagram (Air Base) and elsewhere - all in the name of protecting the American people from the threat of Muslim retaliation for American crimes."
He is apparently referring to a maximum-security prison in Thomson, Illinois, being considered by the government as a possible venue to house terror suspects.
CNN could not independently verify the authenticity of the 24-minute video, posted on websites known to carry such messages in the past and carrying the name of as-Sahab, al Qaeda's media arm. In it, Gadahn speaks in English; the video features Arabic subtitles.