An official, definitive source for this is lacking, just as it has been for the daily flow rate of oil into the Gulf. It may be well over 25,000 barrels per day. For a truly head-spinning but highly informative roundup of the various estimates, see this this piece by the Associated Press’s Seth Borenstein.
Why is airspace over the spill area restricted to the point where journalists cannot fly over the affected territory? Why are journalists threatened with arrest by law enforcement if they dare to take pictures of dead animals?
By the end of May, some media outlets had reported that BP was being excessively strict restrictions were impeding coverage of the spill. Several articles detailed news crews being threatened with arrest or denied access to public land. Most troubling about these roadblocks for journalists is that they have been enacted by law enforcement officials. A Newsweek piece includes this telling quote: “It’s a running joke among the journalists covering the story that the words ‘Coast Guard’ affixed to any vehicle, vessel, or plane should be prefixed with ‘BP,’ ” says Charlie Varley, a Louisiana-based photographer. “It would be funny if it were not so serious.”
One would think that once the press began to report on their restrictions in coverage, BP and the government would feel the pressure to ease up. However, a New York Times story published on June 9 indicates that conditions have, at the very least, remained just as bad. The article specifically highlights the difficulties in gaining flight clearance to document the effects of the spill through photography or video—which, when coupled with the surprisingly small amount of media released by BP itself, raises serious questions (as if there weren’t already enough) over BP’s integrity.
Observatory editor Curtis Brainard contributed reporting to this article.