+ BP gained some $3 billion in value amid reports that Tony Hayward is stepping down as CEO and moving to the company’s Russian joint venture.
+ Bill McCollum used Hayward’s resignation to attack Rick Scott.
+ In an apparent bet that the gulf will soon be clean, federal biologists have released thousands of endangered baby sea turtles, fearing they would suffer in captivity. Nesting season for the turtles typically ends in June.
+ Riki Ott — a marine toxicologist who found herself at the center of Alaska’s response to the Exxon Valdez — visited Florida late last week, and said she’d decided to spend more time in the gulf region talking to affected communities.
+ Ott appears in the documentary Black Wave, which will be screening on Aug. 5 in Pensacola.
+ Cleanup vessels have returned after disruptions caused by Tropical Storm Bonnie.
+ The Minerals Management Service is being renamed and reorganized, but environmentalists charge that it won’t help much if the same people are running the agency. Drilling companies say the problems are exaggerated.
The aides have arrived
The Obama administration has sent a crack team of political operatives to deal with the backlash triggered by what many Floridians see as its tone-deaf response to the oil spill, Politico reports.
Alex Sink, Florida’s chief financial officer and presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee, even characterized Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to the state as “a screw-up,” saying she was “embarrassed” by his speech.
“It was just so off-target and out of touch with the reality of what’s going on over there,” Sink said in an interview at the Florida Democratic Party headquarters in Tallahassee.
It’s the type of criticism the White House wants to avoid. The administration aides in Florida function similarly to a campaign. They do rapid response and media coordination, and they report back to senior aides in the West Wing in nearly real time about what they’re hearing on the ground.
Some Louisiana residents have mustered the audacity to question that state’s entrenched oil culture.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, has called the Obama administration’s moratorium on offshore drilling “a second man-made disaster”; fishermen mourn the destruction of their way of life and defend Big Oil in the same breath; environmentalists call for restoring the battered coastline, not changing the national energy policy.
So when Patty Whitney, a community organizer here in Terrebonne Parish, asked a question at a recent conference about the state of the Louisiana coast, it was all she could do to keep her voice from shaking.
“We are constantly told, ‘You have to adapt to coastal land loss, you have to adapt because of the oil leak, you have to adapt to the new situation,’ ” she said. “When is our government going to adapt to new energy sources that aren’t harmful to our environment and the people who depend upon the environment?”