Today in BP Oil Disaster: Day 85

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After weeks of complaints from print media, TV reporters and photographers, the U.S. Coast Guard is finally letting up on coverage of the oil disaster on the Gulf ... at least that's the directive of Adm. Thad Allen. In a directive yesterday, Allen established a credentialing policy for working media, allowing them to get closer to the boom zones than the 20 meters previously specified. Says the release:

Previously, media were required to contact local authorities each time they wished to access booming operations. The 20-meter safety zone was created to prevent boats from going over the top of booms; it is not intended to limit media access.

This step will further expand media access to frontlines of the BP oil spill response, and ensure that media representatives have the access they need to report this historic response-while maintaining the effectiveness of more than 560 miles of protective boom currently deployed to protect sensitive shorelines along the Gulf Coast.

I wish this had been the case on Saturday, when I went out to Grand Isle. This photo sets one of the scenes:

talon

The angle from which this photo was taken is illusory; I was actually up a small hillock when I snapped it, looking down on the beach; when I was on the beach itself, the orange Tiger Dam striping the sand effectively blocked views of the cleanup operations at the shoreline. The gentlemen in the foreground were representatives of Talon Security, who were quick to tell me -- very politely -- where I could and could not go on the beach.

Gambit has applied for credentials, and we'll keep you posted on what we hear.

In other news:

Could it really be stopping? BP is conducting tests today to see if the new cap is working. The Street headlines "D-Day Arrives for BP Seal."

CSI Oil Disaster: Turns out the same UV light used to detect blood at crime scenes may also be of use in oil cleanup, as seen in this photo set from Nat Geo.

Hotline, hotline; calling on the hotline: The helpful folks at the IRS have set up a hotline for anyone who has questions about BP payments, or is experiencing hardships due to the disaster. Call 1-866-562-5227.

Drill, baby, drill?

Rebuffed twice by the courts, the Obama administration is taking another crack at a moratorium on deep-water drilling, stressing new evidence of safety concerns and no longer basing the moratorium on water depth. But those who challenge the latest ban question whether it complies with a judge's ruling tossing out the first one.

Michelle Obama, barefoot: The first lady visited Panama City Beach, Fla. yesterday to encourage Gulf Coast tourism.

The always-quotable Harry Shearer:

NEW ORLEANS -- Today in this city, the Presidential Commission looking into the Deepwater Horizon disaster is holding its first meeting. Quick question: how quickly after the water receded in the 2005 New Orleans flood did that Presidential commission hold its first meeting? Answer: never, there was no such commission.

Vuvuzelas for Tony Hayward!: A planned protest outside BP's London HQ -- with vuvuzelas! As the donation page states: "Anyone who pledges $10 gets the satisfaction of knowing you just bought a vuvuzela that will undoubtedly frustrate some smug oil baron."

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