+ Members of Florida’s cabinet continued to blast oil spill claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg for failing to hire enough people to process claims quickly enough.
+ Gov. Charlie Crist announced a one-month extension of the state’s bridge loan program, which provides emergency, interest-free assistance to small businesses affected by the spill, for seven counties in the panhandle.
+ For businesses in the rest of the counties covered under the program, (which wrap around Florida’s coast from Wakulla County to Palm Beach County) the last day to apply for one of the loans is Thursday.
+ William Reilly, co-chairman of the national commission on the BP oil spill, said Monday that oil companies should be required to prove they can respond to spills before they’re allowed to drill. More on the commission’s meeting after the jump.
+ The panel also wants BP’s spill-related fines to pay for restoration of the Gulf Coast.
+ Testifying before the commission, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu said the Obama Administration’s deepwater drilling moratorium could do more damage to the Gulf Coast than the spill itself.
+ Drilling is unlikely to resume immediately after the moratorium is lifted, as oil companies will be required to comply with a new set of drilling regulations the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement is set to release later this week.
+ Depression along the Gulf Coast is up 25 percent since the spill, a Gallup poll has found.
Commission: Did low-ball estimates lead to a slower spill response?
As oil gushed into the gulf, estimates of the volume flowing from the BP’s Macondo well jumped repeatedly, from an initial 1,000 barrels a day to 5,000 and eventually to 62,000, with several stops along the way.
The commission investigating the spill, which concludes two days of meetings today, is looking to find out whether those estimates contributed to the initial failures of attempts to plug the well and respond to the unfolding disaster.
A persistent question is whether BP and the Coast Guard calibrated their initial response plans, at the surface and at the sea floor, to handle the smaller amount of gushing oil. Representatives of both, appearing Monday at a commission hearing at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, denied that they made such a mistake, saying they went all-out with every available resource.
“We literally threw everything at it,” said Doug Suttles, BP chief operating officer for exploration and production. Coast Guard Capt. Edwin Stanton echoed those remarks.
But Graham said at the news conference that the commission has information suggesting that some of the deep-sea technology used to fight the leak, such as the “top hat” containment cap, was premised on a smaller flow.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
The issue surfaced when retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who led the federal response to the now-sealed well, said Monday that BP had obligations to its shareholders.
“Ultimately, there was a fiduciary link between the responsible party and their shareholders, which would bring into question whether or not every decision could, should or would have been made based on what was best for the environment and the response itself,” Adm. Allen said.
William Reilly, the panel’s other co-chairman, asked whether that was “an implicit conclusion that BP was too slow to lay out funds.” But Adm. Allen said that “any delay in carrying out response activities” was more likely due to “the enormity of this response.”