Slowly and Cautiously, the BP Cleanup Continues; Meanwhile, Pelican Life Is Threatened

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Somewhere in here, oil is being cleaned up. Hopefully.

While you're at the beach today, 798,000 gallons of crude are being ejected from the Earth, polluting the oceans, and killing the pelicans. The good news is that the caps placed on the well last week are still successfully collecting some of that oil. The bad news is just about everything else:

• Yay: about 250,000 gallons of oil have been funneled by now. That's still less than a third of the oil gushing into the ocean daily, but it's a start. [CNN]

• Engineers are working to close the vents on the installed capping device, but basically they've failed so many times by now that they're scared: "They fear water will rush in and form the kind of icy hydrates that doomed a previous attempt to cap the leak." And if that possibility doesn't occur, they're also concerned "that the pressure inside the cap would become so great that the oil would blast through the imperfect seal." [NYT]

• Obama's famously smooth rhetoric is getting sterner: "I don't want them nickel-and-diming people down here," he said in a briefing about the crisis, promising to "look over BP's shoulders" to make sure the company pays up. "I don't want somebody else bearing the costs of those risks that they took," Obama said. "I want to make sure that they're paying for it." [AP]

• Despite Obama's comments, "thousands of people put out of work in the Gulf because of the oil spill" say the checks from BP aren't coming. Now the state of Louisiana has demanded that BP make its claims database public so we can all see exactly what's taking so long. [CNN Money]

• The families of the eleven workers tragically killed when the rig initially exploded have been extended an invitation to visit the White House. [AP]

• In this weekend's Times magazine, Matt Bai wonders if "too many many dangers at once ... seem to be gushing beyond [Obama's] reach." He adds: "On a deeper level, though, we may be reacting to our own lack of control as workers, providers and parents." [NYT]

• Pelicans — quickly becoming the faces of this disaster — are in "dire trouble" as a result of it. Birds arriving at the International Bird Rescue Research Center were "so thoroughly coated that they could not stand up," and it's feared that, in the wild, many will die. And just last year they were taken off the endangered species list. [NYT]

• An optimistic angle: CNN notes that in 1991, when Iraqi troops "set fire to desert oil wells and opened the valves on rigs and pipelines," the oil spill into the Persian Gulf was "at least five times the most recent estimate of that spilled in the Gulf of Mexico" and "against all the odds, the Persian Gulf appears to have shown amazing resilience." [CNN]