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Anatomy of an Oil Rig Disaster

What happened in the Gulf of Mexico? What does it mean for offshore drilling? Plus, the latest on the Senate energy bill.

Fire boat response crews battle the remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana last Wednesday (AP/US Coast Guard)

There were funerals this week for the coal miners dead in West Virginia. But the active energy disaster this week is not underground, but offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

On April 20, the gigantic offshore drilling rig the “Deepwater Horizon” – bigger than a football field, insured for half a billion dollars – exploded in a wild firestorm and sank in waters a mile deep.

Now, the tangled pipes from its ocean floor wellhead are leaking a thousand barrels of crude a day. And an oil slick of 1800 square miles is threatening the Gulf Coast.

This Hour, On Point: anatomy of an offshore drilling disaster.

Guests:

Doug Helton, incident operations coordinator for the NOAA Emergency Response Division. He’s analyzing the environmental impact of oil leaking from the sunken rig.

Aaron Viles, campaign director at the Gulf Restoration Network. He advocates for sustainable fisheries and habitat protection in the Gulf of Mexico.

Matteo Batista, a former lead field engineer with Weatherford International, an oil-drilling firm. He just finished a three-year tour, mostly on an offshore rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and is about to leave for his next assignment in Pennsylvania.

Bruce Tate, instructor at the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. He’s worked as a drilling manager for over 30 years, in 18 countries, both on and off shore and in deep water.

Later this hour:

We speak with Juliet Eilperin, national environmental reporter for the Washington Post, about the next steps for the stalled Senate climate/energy bill. You can read her latest article on Democrats’ behind-the-scenes moves to salvage that piece of legislation, following Sen. Lindsey Graham’s decision to withdraw his support for it.

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ONPOINT
TODAY
Dec 19, 2014
Alan Gross, waves as he and his wife Judy leave following his statement at his lawyer's office in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Gross was released from Cuba after 5 years in a Cuban prison. (AP)

Cuba reset. Russia’s rubble troubles. School massacre in Pakistan. Jeb explores 2016. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Dec 19, 2014
Soledad, and from left, Nina Pastori, and Lila Downs perform on stage at the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Tribute honoring Joan Manuel Serrat at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP)

From crossover hits to hip-hop to soul, we look at a big year in the wide world of Latin music.

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Dec 18, 2014
A poster for the movie "The Interview" is carried away by a worker after being pulled from a display case at a Carmike Cinemas movie theater, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP)

A big Sony hack gets weirder and wider. And Hollywood and Homeland Security are on edge.

 
Dec 18, 2014
This handout photo from the Twitter account of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. shows Alan Gross arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. The US and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War, American officials said Wednesday. (AP)

Following months of secret talks the US will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than fifty years.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
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