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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
Apr 28, 2015
Baltimore police officers push back demonstrators who are throwing rocks at the police, after the funeral of Freddie Gray, on Monday, April 27, 2015, at New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore.  (AP)

After Freddie Gray’s funeral in Baltimore, protests turned violent. We’re on the ground looking at policing, protests and reaction in the streets.

Apr 28, 2015
A landmark new research study from Chinese scientists is one of the first to edit the genomes of human embryos. (Dr. Yorgos Nikas/  SPL)

Chinese scientists re-engineer human embryo genes, and set off a global moral debate. We’ll dig in.

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Apr 27, 2015
Former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner at a charity event in 2013. (Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP)

Bruce Jenner opens up about his gender journey. We’ll look at the big picture of transgender life in America now.

 
Apr 27, 2015
Flowers and ribbons adorn a tree outside the Weinstein family house in Rockville, Md. last week. Earlier, President Barack Obama ook full responsibility for the counterterror missions and offered his "grief and condolences" to the families of the hostages, Warren Weinstein of Rockville, Maryland, and Giovanni Lo Porto who were inadvertently killed by CIA drone strikes early this year. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

American drone policy and consequences. We’ll look at secret strikes and the evolution of drone war.

On Point Blog
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