June 28th, 2010
08:59 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Tracking Tropical Storm Alex

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/28/c1main.epa.oil.beach.jpg caption="An EPA worker takes photos of oil coming ashore in Orange Beach, Alabama." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tropical Alex is taking aim at South Texas, but it could still cause trouble in the Gulf oil leak zone. Crews need calm seas to bring in a third rig called the Helix Producer to capture an additional 20,000 to 25,000 barrels of oil per day. But Alex could create waves as high as 12 feet in the area.

"That will restrict our ability to do these operations" for as much as a week, said Kent Wells, BP senior vice president of exploration and production.

The federal government is also keeping a close eye on the storm.

"We all know that the weather is unpredictable and we could have a sudden last minute change," said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who is coordinating the federal response to the spill.

We'll have the latest on the storm's path tonight on 360°.

We'll also show you how BP got a big break before it even started drilling at the Deepwater Horizon site. 360's Joe Johns has discovered that the oil company didn't have to comply with a tough law that would have forced it to fully assess what risks the rig might pose to the environment. That's because the federal agency that's suppose to regulate the industry didn't believe the rig would cause any environmental damage. You read that right. The Minerals Management Service, now known as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, didn't think the rig was an environmental risk. That meant BP didn't have to detail what equipment it was using or even the place it was drilling. BP got to skip what would have been the toughest environmental review before drilling for oil.

It gets worse. It's not just BP and the Deepwater Horizon. Joe has discovered most oil companies working in the Gulf get a free pass. We're talking about hundreds of oil projects underway right now with no environmental review. We'll break down the numbers for you.

We're also digging deeper into the mental anguish linked to the oil disaster.

"There exists anger, anxiety and uncertainty among the families and communities affected by the spill, which will easily manifest into addiction and various forms of mental health crisis if not confronted," Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine wrote in a letter to BP Chief Operating officer Doug Suttles.

That's his second letter to Suttles. As 360's Randi Kaye has uncovered, back on May 28th, Levine sent his first letter asking BP for $10 million to treat mental illness. On June 13th Suttles responded, not with a check, but with a letter. Suttles wrote he's had "spirited discussions" with the state of Louisiana and looks forward to "continuing the dialogue."

Levine told Randi today, "There's no time for dialogue. We need them to support this."

So, Levine sent his second letter to BP today requesting again $10 million. Randi asked BP for a response. See what they told her tonight on the program.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Richard Cobb

    I am a conservative and through the years have not been a advocate of CNN because of the direction I percieved they were heading.
    I live in Orange Beach Alabama live on a beautiful Bay that is being impacted by the Oil Spill.
    Anderson Cooper has changed my opionion of CNN and believe it or not even James Carvill. They are with us now but I am not sure how long this will interest TV.
    I am terrified that Anderson will weary of this situation because it will go to 150 days or more of leaking and this will not be a news story any longer, When the leak is plugged and there is no story and the onlt thing we will have is a disater on the coast. Then with story it will not be good for ratings.

    June 28, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
  2. Ruth Amutice

    I continue to admire the integrity with which Anderson and his program contributors do their work. Anderson sets a remarkable tone with his straightforwardness, humanity and most obvious dedication to excellence. This had to be said, and its applies to all the coverage on this show.

    June 28, 2010 at 9:35 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    If this hurricane season is as active as predicted BP may not have calm seas a lot of days – lets hope the waters stay calm as much as possible so they can complete capping that well as quickly as possible. I can believe the part about the Oil companies being able to skip the environmental checks – under Bush environment seemed to be a dirty word. Looking forward to seeing the show tonight and hearing what BP told Randi on the mental health dollars. Any payment the US gets out of them will take a lot of effort to extract and a lot of time. If BP truly wants to help repair what they have broken they would pay timely amounts on treatment for the people as well as for their loss of livelihood and the fouled beaches, marshlands, and victimized wildlife.

    June 28, 2010 at 9:20 pm |

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