Politicians blast BP, Coast Guard over spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana's Republican U.S. senator blasted oil giant BP PLC on Tuesday for what he called its attempt

to run from its full cleanup responsibilities for the nation's worst offshore spill, the 2010 disaster that left the Gulf

Coast heavily oiled.

U.S. Sen. David Vitter also charged during a

field briefing in New Orleans that the Coast Guard had "too cozy" a

relationship

with the energy company. He spoke during a briefing of the

Committee on Environment and Public Works, a Senate body that oversees

environmental issues.

When Hurricane Isaac struck Louisiana's coast in late August, the storm's waves exposed sections of buried oil along Louisiana's

coast and also stirred up debate about how much oil remains.

It's uncertain how much oil from the April 2010 spill remains in the Gulf environment, but scientists say some is trapped

under sand, some is on the Gulf's seafloor and some is stuck in marshy areas hard to clean up.

The spill resulted from the explosion of the

Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers and left BP

unable to

control its well for nearly three months. More than 200 million

gallons of oil leaked out of the well, according to government

estimates. The vast majority of that oil was dispersed, evaporated

or got cleaned up.

Still, some oil remains and Isaac made that clear. After Isaac, BP ramped up its cleanup operations, saying the storm helped

reveal where buried oil was.

Vitter, who is a member of the Senate

committee, expressed frustration that more is not being done to clean up

Louisiana's

coast. He and other Louisiana officials contend the Coast Guard

has allowed BP to wind down cleanup operations prematurely.

About 200 miles of Louisiana's coast remain under active cleanup.

"I think BP is actively trying to run away from its full clean-up responsibilities," the senator said.

Vitter also suggested the Coast Guard was eager to wrap up the cleanup because it was costing precious manpower hours for

which the agency was not getting compensated.

At the briefing, the Coast Guard's top official overseeing the cleanup disagreed.

"The Coast Guard is in no way interested in ending this prematurely," said Capt. Samuel Walker, the federal on-scene coordinator

for the cleanup. "Not because of my time lost, not because of any other factor."

Walker conceded the Coast Guard is not requiring BP to find buried oil. But he said the company has a responsibility to clean

up oil when it is found.

Vitter also charged that the Coast Guard was

"far too deferential" to BP's experts and needs. He accused the agency

of not

doing enough to listen to the concerns of Louisiana officials, who

have complained that BP is not being forced to do enough

to find and clean up buried oil.

Walker said the agency was in continual contact with Louisiana officials and that the agency was carrying out a solid cleanup

plan.

Although invited to appear at the briefing, BP did not send a representative. Geoff Morrell, a BP spokesman, said the issues

"discussed at the briefing are the subject of ongoing litigation" and because of that BP was "unable to participate."

He added that BP's "commitment to the Gulf region has not changed."

BP says its cleanup and response costs over the last two years were nearly $15 billion and more than 66 million man-hours

have gone to protecting and treating the Gulf shoreline.

No other Senate members attended the briefing and the only other member of Congress to attend was U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who also attacked BP and the Coast Guard for not doing enough.

Judge tosses BP fuel dealers' brand-name claims

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed claims by BP fuel dealers that the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico diminished the value of the oil giant's brand and cost them business.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's ruling Tuesday says the dealers' claims against BP PLC aren't viable under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, general maritime law or state law.

All claims by BP dealers are excluded from the company's proposed settlement of billions of dollars of claims by

other businesses and individuals who blame the spill for economic damages.

Barbier also on Tuesday tossed out claims against BP by Gulf Coast homeowners who claim the spill hurt their property values even though no oil physically touched their property and they haven't sold their homes.