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GULF OF MEXICO:

NOAA finalizes plan for RESTORE Act spending

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today finalized its plan for spending a slice of penalty money from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that is tagged for research.

Under the RESTORE Act, passed by Congress in 2012, 80 percent of Clean Water Act civil fines stemming from the spill will be sent to a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. That money is divided into five pots, one of which is for a NOAA-managed science program focused on the Gulf of Mexico.

OFFSHORE SAFETY:

Confidential reporting system for 'near misses' is almost ready, federal officials say

HOUSTON -- Federal officials here unveiled yesterday a reporting system for a "near miss" avoided-accident reporting system that will be available soon for the offshore oil and gas industry.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has been in talks with the oil industry to establish a system for gathering details on incidents where accidents or injury did not occur, but could have. Now such a reporting mechanism is up with a hotline, and a website is forthcoming, said Brian Salerno, BSEE director.

GULF SPILL:

NOAA launches searchable website with post-disaster data

The public can now access environmental data collected in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, thanks to a new online database that allows users to browse and download thousands of data sets.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration unveiled the online tool today, calling it part of its goal to unleash "vast resources of environmental data." Called DIVER -- or Data Integration, Visualization, Exploration and Reporting -- it features searchable data from the past five years on everything from tissue samples to bird counts in the Gulf of Mexico.

OFFSHORE DRILLING:

Effects of Gulf spill, future disasters still unknown -- scientists

The ecological harm wrought by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010 is still largely unknown and there is still no silver-bullet technology for responding to oil that escapes into open water, scientists told a Senate panel yesterday.

Witnesses who testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee urged Congress to provide more funding to study base-line conditions in federal waters, endorse a comprehensive study into the pros and cons of oil dispersants, and improve communication between academics and federal responders so that damage from future oil spills can be minimized.

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About this report

The sunken oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico is the worst oil spill in U.S. history. E&E examines the response to the spill, the politics of offshore drilling, and the aftermath for Gulf species and industries.

Industry

Politics

Natural Resources

Response