ICYMI:* A cornucopia of BP oil spill news

We haven’t been covering the day-to-day developments around the Deepwater Horizon accident for several weeks, but here are a few items from recent days:

  • The gaggle of civil lawsuits against BP and others that were consolidated in New Orleans federal court could go to trial as early as next summer, according to AP. (Setting and resetting of court dates in big cases like this is hardly unusual, so we’re not likely to jump up and down every time there’s a change).
  • Beaumont attorney and longtime BP foe Brent Coon has been selected to a committee of lawyers to help sort through discovery for the New Orleans lawsuit, according to the Beaumont Enterprise. Coon has a huge collection of internal BP documents from his cases against the company related to the deadly 2005 Texas City refinery accident.  The first round of evidence-gathering will last until the end of the year, Coon said, with more taking place in 2011. The judge is aiming to test some of the cases in trial next summer, Coon said.
  • Lawsuits filed by BP workers whose pension funds lost value following the accident will be consolidated in Houston federal court, a panel of judges ruled this week, says Bloomberg. The employees had asked that the suits be combined in Chicago, where BP’s retirement plan is administered, but BP successfully argued the cases belong in Houston because the claims are similar to those in shareholder lawsuits being heard here.
  • Attorneys in the above-mentioned shareholder suits have until Oct. 27 to put in their recommendations for the steering committee in that case, according to Bloomberg.
  • The number of birds oiled by the Gulf spill has been relatively small, according to Audubon Society field work, but the long-term impacts due to damage to the food chain are a concern, according to NPR.
  • Another 6,879 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico has been reopened to fishing following testing by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The area is located between 180 and 200 nautical miles south of the Florida panhandle, between the Florida-Alabama state line and Cape San Blas, Fla. According to the release, reopened area is about 29 percent of the area that was still closed. About 16,481 square miles remain closed.
  • The Gulf disaster isn’t likely to have a big impact with voters this political cycle, according to WaPo’s The Fix, which notes that of all the public polls  conducted in recent weeks, few have posed questions related to the spill. Among the polls that refer to the spill, the results indicate that voters are indifferent or ambivalent about it.