5/7/10 Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded on April 20, the Obama administration has granted oil and gas companies at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico.

The exemptions, known as “categorical exclusions,” were granted by the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) and included waiving detailed environmental studies for a BP exploration plan to be conducted at a depth of more than 4,000 feet and an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. exploration plan at more 9,000 feet.

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5/12/10 Federal investigators are likely to file criminal charges against at least one of the companies involved in the Gulf of Mexico spill, raising the prospects of significantly higher penalties than a current $75 million cap on civil liability, legal experts say.

5/6/10 Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) announced they will be introducing legislation to create an independent, non-partisan, “blue-ribbon” commission to investigate the causes of the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and provide the President, Congress, and the public with recommendations to avoid such disasters in the future. The commission would serve as an important long-term addition to the Obama administration’s excellent short-term efforts to investigate and respond to the Gulf spill.

The commission would also be tasked with providing Congress with a full understanding of the consequences of this spill and possible future incidents to sensitive and ecologically important areas, as well as the economic impacts to ocean and coastal communities. Additionally, the commission would have subpoena power and the ability to hold public hearings, including in the Gulf region.

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5/3/10  As BP began accepting volunteer help from Louisiana fishermen to aid in the cleanup of oil that continues to leak from the Deepwater Horizon disaster BP was also making those fishermen sign agreements which "seriously compromised the existing and future rights and potential legal claims of these volunteers," said Stuart Smith, an attorney for the fishermen.

Many Louisiana fisherman feel a deep vested interest in protecting the marine resources that provide them their livelihood and the heart of their culture. They are also desperate to make a living in the face of the fisheries closures and the likelihood
that shrimp and oyster harvests in the affected areas will be shut down for at least this upcoming season.

The offer of paid volunteer work helping to clean up the spill was welcomed but the restrictive agreements that BP was asking them to sign was making the fishermen feel that they were being taken advantage of.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana was opened this afternoon by Judge Ginger Berrigan to receive petition of Louisiana commercial fisherman to nullify and strike the offensive language in the British Petroleum volunteer fisherman charter contract.
 
Download a copy of the Master Charter Agreements which British Petroleum was asking fisherman to sign at http://www.kreweoftruth.com