The Brief: Assessing the Damage From the Galveston Oil Spill

A barge loaded with marine fuel oil sits partially submerged in the Houston Ship Channel on March 22, 2014.
A barge loaded with marine fuel oil sits partially submerged in the Houston Ship Channel on March 22, 2014.

The Big Conversation

Tar balls from Saturday's spill of 168,000 gallons of fuel oil into Galveston Bay began to wash ashore on Monday as officials assessed the long-term effects of the accident.

•    The ferry between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula will reopen Tuesday, operating during daylight hours, reported the Houston Chronicle. A decision on reopening the Houston Ship Channel could also happen Tuesday.

•    Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson sketched out a best-case scenario, according to The Associated Press, in which much of the oil stays out in the Gulf for a few more days, where it would stick together in relatively easy-to-collect tar balls. "This spill — I think if we keep our fingers crossed — is not going to have the negative impact that it could have had," said Patterson.

•    Others were not so sanguine. The Chronicle reported that wind and choppy water made the spill difficult to contain. Oil had spread as far as 12 miles from the spill site, with oil-covered fish and birds already turning up.

•    The Chronicle was also reporting that the towboat pushing the barge involved in the collision had a history of incidents. "Government records show the Miss Susan has been involved in a string of 20 accidents and incidents reported to the Coast Guard in the past dozen years, including two other accidents that occurred when the boat was pushing barges containing oil or asphalt."

The Day Ahead

•    The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee holds an interim hearing at 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to look at the classification of 17-year-olds in the criminal justice system. (agenda)

•    The Senate Criminal Justice Committee holds an interim hearing at 1:30 p.m. in the Capitol Extension to get a status report from the juvenile justice department. (agenda)

Today in the Trib

Supreme Court Case Could Add Women's Health Hurdles: "The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday is poised to hear two cases that could add additional hurdles for women seeking reproductive health coverage in Texas."

ACA Advocates Make Enrollment Push Ahead of Deadline: "As ACA enrollment figures continue to lag behind expected totals, health reform advocates are running a final blitz to enroll uninsured Texans in the federal marketplace ahead of the March 31 deadline."

Must-Read

Fort Worth’s Burnam challenges election loss, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

6 candidates challenge election results, McAllen Monitor

As Wendy Davis stays on “equal pay,” the Greg Abbott campaign turns to her bond counsel paydays, Austin American-Statesman

Despite tea party gains, Straus appears safe for another term as speaker, The Dallas Morning News

Gov. Rick Perry: It’s time for state to revisit ‘antiquated’ rules that prohibit Tesla sales in Texas, The Dallas Morning News

New $5 million abortion clinic in San Antonio expected to adhere to new state rules, San Antonio Express-News

Judge blocks New Braunfels ‘can ban’, Austin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

"We are an important damn delegation. You know, the California members are sometimes jealous."

— U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound, on the influence of the Texas Republicans in the House. With 24 members, they are by far the largest delegation in the House Republican conference.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Sen. Charles Schwertner and Reps. John Raney and Kyle Kacal at Texas A&M University in College Station, 3/27

•    A Conversation With Mike Collier, Candidate for State Comptroller at the Austin Club, 4/17

•    A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21