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The disastrous oil spill still spreading through the Gulf of Mexico and onto U.S. coastal areas has everyone pointing fingers. Everything from the White House to offshore drilling to its GOP proponents have taken a beating. But what about BP, the company responsible for the damaged well  now filling the Gulf with several times as much oil as the Exxon Valdez spill? How have they been performing? Not so great.

  • Over-Using Dangerous Dispersants The Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg writes, "The White House directed BP to cut its use of chemical dispersants to break up the Louisiana oil slick by as much as 50% yesterday, reflecting concerns that the clean-up of the spill could be worsening the economic disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. ... BP has poured more than 650,000 gallons of the chemical on to the spill. Scientists told congressional hearings last week that Corexit was more toxic and less effective than other dispersants on the market."
  • Taking Too Long Illinois Senator Dick Durban, second-ranking Senate Democrat, fumed, "BP in my mind no longer stands for British Petroleum -- it stands for Beyond Patience. ... People have been waiting 34 days for British Petroleum to cap this well and stop the damage that's happening across the Gulf of Mexico. ... What we need to tell BP is excuses don't count anymore. You caused this mess, now stop the damage and clean up the mess. It's your responsibility." Liberal blogger John Cole scoffs, "BP keeps missing deadlines they themselves set to cap the spill."
  • Feuding With U.S. Officials The New York Times' Clifford Krauss reports, "The effort to stanch the vast oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been mired by setbacks as state and federal officials feuded with BP over its failure to meet deadlines and its refusal to stop spraying a chemical dispersant. BP was locked in a tense standoff with the Environmental Protection Agency, which had ordered the company last week to find a 'less toxic' chemical dispersant than the one it was using and to make the switch by Sunday evening. But BP continued spraying the chemical on Monday after informing the agency why it believed that the dispersant it has been using, called Corexit, was the safest available."
  • Not Giving EPA Trustworthy Data  Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson "chided BP's lack of transparency and suggested that the federal government no longer trusted the oil company's testing data, which has so far shown that the dispersant, Corexit, is effective and not a risk to aquatic life." Jackson said, "They were more interested in defending their original decisions than studying other options. ... Rather than take their word for it at this point, I'd rather have my own scientists do their own analysis."
  • Getting Police to Blockade Reporters  Mother Jones' Mac Mclelland recounts, "The blockade to Elmer's is now four cop cars strong. As we pull up, deputies start bawling us out; all media need to go to the Grand Isle community center, where a "BP Information Center" sign now hangs out front. Inside, a couple of Times-Picayune reporters circle BP representative Barbara Martin, who tells them that if they want passage to Elmer they have to get it from another BP flack, Irvin Lipp; Grand Isle beach is closed too, she adds."

"But it wasn't BP that was yelling at us [not to enter the beaches], it was the sheriff's office," we say.

"Yeah, I know, but we have...a very strong relationship."

"What do you mean? You have a lot of sway over the sheriff's office?"

"Oh yeah."

"How much?"

"A lot."

With the realization that images of spoiled beaches and oil-covered animals are likely to become much worse in the coming weeks, the administration is torn between a political imperative -- that it take a hard line with the oil giant -- and a practical one -- that it has no choice but to rely on the company to stop the flow.

Some administration officials have started taking a tougher stance with BP, with Salazar threatening on Sunday to "push them out" if the company did not perform.

But when Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen, who is directing the government's disaster response, was asked about Salazar's comment during a briefing Monday at the White House, he dismissed it as "more of a metaphor." Allen added: "To push BP out of the way would raise the question of: Replace them with what?"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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