Hurricane Alex has been downgraded to a tropical storm but halts oil spill cleanup on Thursday, July 1, 2010. Though Alex has been downgraded a more serious threat is imminent. Forecasters fear the 10 foot waves and 100 mile per hour winds that slammed Southern Texas and parts of Mexico have spread the oil deeper into the marshes along the Mississippi Delta. Rescue and clean up efforts have been stalled by the storm and the 510 skimmers used to remove oil from the surface of the water have been unable to leave the shore. Coast Guard official Rear Admiral Paul R. Zukunft described the critical situation as "we've been held hostage by the oil, but now the weather is holding us hostage." Zunkunft did relay that the storm has not impeded efforts to drill two relief wells.
Congress responded to clean up efforts on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 by passing a number of bills to contain the present Gulf of Mexico spill and prevent future disasters. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee pasted a measure to raise the cap on liability from the spill. Existing laws hold companies liable for $75 million dollars in damages and the Senate voted to remove the cap. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will address liability limits on Thursday, June 1, 2010.
BP has agreed to set aside $20 billion dollars for clean up purposes and resulting claims.