+ On the whole, Florida’s beaches appear relatively free of oil.
+ The Obama Administration submitted a new moratorium on deepwater drilling (details after the jump).
+ A new cap has been placed over the well, which is undergoing pressure tests today. The tests will determine whether the cap will hold and whether there’s oil leaking from holes farther down the pipe, as Sen. Bill Nelson has feared.
In a briefing with reporters this morning, Adm. Thad Allen, the spill response commander, said it was too early to tell whether the cap would succeed, in part because no one knows the full extent of the damage caused by the explosion that caused the spill. The tests will help responders better understand how — and how much of — the oil is flowing out of the busted well.
+ Pressure is mounting for BP to protect cleanup workers from oil fumes and chemicals. A new site, BPMakesMeSick.com, includes a petition calling on President Obama to ensure that workers are given protective respirators.
In this morning’s briefing, Allen said workers are now using 2 million protective suits daily and are worried about a supply shortfall.
+ The Unified Command announced new procedures allowing greater media access to beaches and provided photos to prove it. Over the past two weeks, the command had been criticized for barring reporters from so-called “safety zones.”
+ Federal claims overseer Kenneth Feinberg asked Floridians not to sue BP just yet.
The new moratorium
The Obama administration unveiled a new drilling moratorium, which bans deep-water wells without relying on the fact that they stand in deep water.
Unlike the last moratorium, which applied to waters of more than 500 feet, the new one applies to any deep-water floating facility with blowout preventers.The National Ocean Industries Association, an industry trade group for offshore production, said that while the new moratorium doesn’t apply to anchored facilities using surface blowout preventers, “such facilities are generally used in shallow water, which makes the new suspension glaringly similar, if not even more restrictive than the original moratorium. It is not immediately clear how many facilities will be impacted.”
Last week a federal appeals court struck down an attempted moratorium. The administration believes it’s different this time around.
The Justice Department said that the new order supersedes the earlier one and renders the legal challenge to the moratorium moot. That challenge had been mounted by Hornbeck Offshore Services and other drilling firms, which had won an injunction from a district court judge. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Interior Department’s motion to stay the preliminary injunction pending appeal.
See also: The new moratorium explained.