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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
Mar 4, 2015
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a keynote address at the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in Santa Clara, Calif.  (AP)

Hillary Clinton’s week of bad headlines: about her emails and foreign money going to the Clinton Foundation. We’ll dig in.

Mar 4, 2015
This photo taken July 31, 2012 shows a "tiny" house April Anson built in Portland, Ore. For the past couple of months, 33-year-old Anson and her friends have been planning, measuring, sawing and hammering their way toward completion of what might look like a child’s playhouse. (AP)

Tiny houses, micro-apartments. They’re hot. Americans are downsizing.

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Food guidelines are changing. So is what we eat for breakfast. Cereal? Out of favor. Eggs? Maybe OK. And all kinds of new menus. We’ll look at Americans and breakfast.

 
Mar 3, 2015
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Is it time to stop asking job applicants if they’ve been convicted of a crime? We’ll look at employment and unemployment after prison.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Answers To Your Questions On Black Holes
Tuesday, Mar 3, 2015

Yale University’s Priyamvada Natarajan answers your black hole questions in full. (Well, most of them.)

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Want To Listen To Lead Belly? Here’s Where To Start
Monday, Mar 2, 2015

Loved our show on Lead Belly, but unsure on where you should start to listen? Jeff Place of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage offers his best picks for a beginning Lead Belly listener.

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Our Week In The Web: February 27, 2015
Friday, Feb 27, 2015

We won’t lead you into a debate on the color of #TheDress (it’s blue and black, end of debate), but we do wonder about the blurring lines between so-called Internet culture and general popular culture. Also, it’s snowing in Boston. Still.

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