Gov. Charlie Crist activated a $5 million loan program for small businesses originally touted by Florida CFO Alex Sink. A BP executive will be joining them at today’s cabinet meeting. The company has purchased $50 million in “apology” ads for television, as well as some Google ad words, but these efforts have “failed to resonate with consumers.” Wall Street may be taking seriously the idea that this could spell the end of BP.

Worse than we thought?
Sen. Bill Nelson warns oil could be gushing from multiple points on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico (via):

Back to work
Citing complaints about job losses, the Obama administration has announced it will allow new offshore oil drilling projects to go forward while lifting limits on damages that can be paid by companies responsible for spills.

The oil industry is awaiting new safety regulations from the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, which canceled some offshore drilling permits last week and has had others on hold since early May. Administration officials say new rules for shallow water oil and gas drilling could be released as soon as Tuesday.

The White House also said Monday that it supported lifting the cap on liability damages altogether for any oil companies drilling offshore. The cap is $75 million unless the government can show criminal negligence.

Years of neglect
ProPublica uncovers more problems with BP’s safety record.

A series of internal investigations over the past decade warned senior BP managers that the company repeatedly disregarded safety and environmental rules and risked a serious accident if it did not change its ways.

The confidential inquiries, which have not previously been made public, focused on a rash of problems at BP’s Alaska oil-drilling unit that undermined the company’s publicly proclaimed commitment to safe operations. They described instances in which management flouted safety by neglecting aging equipment, pressured or harassed employees not to report problems, and cut short or delayed inspections in order to reduce production costs. Executives were not held accountable for the failures, and some were promoted despite them.

The article notes that much-maligned CEO Tony Hayward took the job in 2007 as a committed reformer, as safety problems posed a threat to BP’s business.

Because of its string of accidents before the recent blowout in the Gulf, BP already faced a possible ban on its federal contracting and on new U.S. drilling leases, several senior former Environmental Protection Agency debarment officials told ProPublica. That inquiry has taken on new significance in light of the Gulf accident. One key question the EPA will consider is whether the company’s leadership can be trusted and whether BP’s culture can change.

The reports detailing BP’s Alaska investigations — conducted by outside lawyers and an internal BP committee in 2001, 2004 and 2007 — were provided to ProPublica by a person close to BP who believes the company has not yet done enough to eradicate its shortcomings.

A 2001 report noted that BP had neglected key equipment needed for emergency shutdown, including safety shutoff valves and gas and fire detectors similar to those that could have helped prevent the fire and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf.

Talking tough: Obama, Crist, and kicking ass.

America is not alone: Canada has also been scaling back regulation of offshore oil drilling in recent years.

Turf war: Wrangling over which areas will be featured has stalled an ad campaign intended to boost the image of Pensacola beaches.

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Kenneth Feinberg today takes over the gargantuan task of distributing the $20 billion BP is setting aside to reimburse victims of the gulf oil spill. He has said he will approve compensation claims by relying on precedents set by state and federal law. But law professors following the issue say it is unclear just how Feinberg will interpret a key legal doctrine called “proximate cause,” which will determine exactly who gets a slice of the compensation fund.