A robot crashed into the collection cap, meaning more oil is spilling (more after the jump).

Charlie Crist made another beach visit today, noting that the tar balls have gotten thicker near Pensacola.

“To see something like this in such a beautiful place is unbelievable,” the governor said. “We’ve seen tar balls but never this kind of stuff.”

“It’s pretty ugly,” he added.

A new health advisory has been issued for Escambia County beaches.

BP placed Mississippi native Bob Dudley in charge of cleanup efforts.

House majority leader Steny Hoyer called for a summit of East Coast governors to discuss the spill.

Trouble with the cap means more gushing oil
Due to “a discharge of liquid and gas,” BP has temporarily removed the containment cap that had been siphoning oil to the surface.

Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard, at a mid-day briefing in Washington, said a remote-controlled submersible operating a mile beneath the surface had most likely bumped a vent and compromised the system. Live video from the seafloor showed oil and gas storming out of the well unrestricted.

This was yet another complication in BP’s two-month-old struggle to contain the tens of thousands of barrels of oil spewing into the gulf.

Watch it live.

Reactions to Judge Martin Feldman’s lifting of Deepwater Drilling moratorium
It was a “narrow, reckless” ruling, argues the St. Petersburg Times editorial page.

Feldman bought the line by the oil services industry that the six-month moratorium imposed by the administration amounted to a “heavy-handed” and “indeed punitive” step that would cause “convincing harm” to thousands of people who work on or serve the drilling rigs. His ruling was a sweeping and overheated sop to an industry whose assurances carry little credibility. The ban affected 33 rigs; it did not apply to the 5,000 production wells already operating in the gulf, including 586 in deep water of more than 1,000 feet. The judge from New Orleans sided with the interests of Louisiana’s oil industry ahead of other sectors, from tourism to fishing, that through no fault of their own are suffering heavily across Florida and other states.

Feldman had several conflicts of interest — including a stake of “less than $15,000″ in Transocean Ltd., the owner of Deepwater Horizon, according to this report from the Associated Press.

Feldman’s 2008 financial disclosure report — the most recent available — also showed investments in Ocean Energy, a Houston-based company, as well as Quicksilver Resources, Prospect Energy, Peabody Energy, Halliburton, Pengrowth Energy Trust, Atlas Energy Resources, Parker Drilling and others. Halliburton was also involved in the doomed Deepwater Horizon project.

Josh Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group, said the ruling should be rescinded if Feldman still has investments in companies that could benefit.

“If Judge Feldman has any investments in oil and gas operators in the Gulf, it represents a flagrant conflict of interest,” Reichert said.

Since the case was being heard at the epicenter of offshore drilling, “The real shocker would have been finding a local judge who didn’t have any entanglement with the oil business,” writes Andrew Leonard in Salon. Still…

As we have just witnessed, it only takes one botched well to create an enduring catastrophe. Taking six months to figure out what went wrong and getting new safety regulations and technology in place to protect against a repeat probably strikes most people who aren’t directly financially impacted by the moratorium as a prudent idea. Yes, it’s a political reaction to a disaster. That doesn’t mean it’s the wrong thing to do, however.

“Uncertainty remains,” MarketWatch reports.

Analysts at investment firm Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. noted that the industry will continue to abide by the ban, despite the injunction, while the administration’s appeal is pending.

“With the fervor that the government is protecting this ban and the legal uncertainties, no oil company … is going to step out onto the gangplank and try to start drilling again,” Tudor Pickering Holt noted. “Deepwater drilling is not a quick process. It takes big-time planning and logistics.

“We think industry is just going to sit on their hands and wait for clarity.”

The real oil spill shakedown: We’re all the victim, argues Pete Altman.

Saving what’s left: Inside the Noah’s Ark Project.

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