BP has announced that "Top Kill," their attempt at plugging the Gulf of Mexico oil leak by pumping mud into the busted pipe, has failed. BP PLC Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said at a news conference last night that after three days, the company determined the method wasn't working, and said, "This scares everybody, the fact that we can't make this well stop flowing, the fact that we haven't succeeded so far." Most of the mud and junk used to plug the hole ended up escaping out of the pipe, and the company made the decision with the government to stop the attempt. Next plan: BP will use robot submarines to cut off the damaged pipe and then attempt to cap it, which could take at least four days.
Protesters also may have more fuel for their rage thanks to some revealing numbers. Federal records show that BP is one of the top Capitol Hill spenders, dropping $20 million since last year to lobby Congress and over $14,500 to New York congressional candidates alone. Charles Rangel raked in $8,500 from the oil giants, but Chuck Schumer got just $250. Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, told the Daily News, "If they could afford to spend tens of millions on lobbying, the question is, were they acting responsibly as a corporation?" She also said that members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee were among the top recipients for BP's cash.
Obama called the Top Kill failure "as enraging as it is heartbreaking," and mentioned that the robot submarine procedure "is not without risk and has never been attempted before at this depth. That is why it was not activated until other methods had been exhausted." Even if it works, oil could continue to flow all summer. Presidential adviser Carol Browner told CBS, "American people need to know that it is possible we will have oil leaking from this well until August when the relief wells will be finished." It could also get worse, as cutting the pipe in order to cap it could release up to 20% more oil over a few days.