oil slickWho to believe? Some scientists say there’s oil in the Gulf, others say they’re crazy.Now it’s just getting bizarre. A government-sponsored team of scientists out searching for oil in the Gulf reports it still hasn’t found much evidence of it. No mile-wide plumes, no layers of goo buried in sediment. So where did more than 4 million barrels of oil go? And why do other scientists keep finding it?

Catch me if you can:  NOAA scientist Janet Baran told reporters her team has collected almost 30,000 water and sediment samples from roughly 10,000 locations and not one of them has “visible oil on them.” But Rainer Amon, a Texas A&M scientist who recently returned from an expedition sponsored by Greenpeace, says he found remnants of an oil and gas plume 3,000 feet under water and about 300 miles from where the well exploded. And just a few weeks ago, University of Georgia scientist Samantha Joye reported a layer of oil on the ocean floor almost 70 miles from the source of the spill.

Not ready for slime time:  Interior Department chief Ken Salazar announced tougher regulations on off-shore drilling and oil rig safety yesterday, but he balked at revealing when the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf will be lifted. He said he’ll do that when he’s good and ready.

The same people who have fought to weaken regulations and oversight of the oil and gas industry have protested the suspensions from the start. They want us to ignore the new reality and go back to business as usual as if nothing happened in the Gulf of Mexico. But that’s not an option; we won’t proceed down that path.

For his part, Michael Bromwich, head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, says he won’t be bullied into lifting the ban by the likes of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who is threatening to hold up confirmation of the White House’s appointment of a budget director until the moratorium goes away. Said Bromwich:

There’s no chance that we’ll lift it sooner because of political pressure of any sort. The only way we’ll lift the moratorium sooner is if we’re comfortable and confident there has been progress on a number of issues. Those issues are drilling in workplace safety, spill containment, and spill response. 

And in other green news:

Where there’s fire, there’s smoke: BP’s reputaton as a serial polluter became even more secure yesterday when the Justice Department announced the oil company would be paying a $15 million fine for violations of the Clean Air Act at its refinery in Texas City, Texas. The fine stems from fires there in 2004 and 2005 and a leak in 2005. [AP]

It’s not pretty when he’s angry: The Terminator is pissed. At a recent event, here’s what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to say about the oil companies bankrolling Proposition 23, which would suspend California’s cutting-edge greenhouse gases law:

Does anyone really believe that these companies, out of their black-oil hearts, are really spending millions and millions of dollars to protect jobs? It’s not about jobs at all. It’s about their ability to pollute and thus protect their profits.

[Treehugger]

“Fair and balanced” alert:  Now here’s a big surprise: News Corp., owner of Fox News, gave $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been running attack ads against any candidates who voted for cap-and-trade legislation in the House last year. [Politico]

When bigger ain’t better: So, if appliances are much more efficient these days — refrigerators use 51 percent less energy than they did 20 years ago — why are Americans using as much energy in their homes as we did in the early 1970s. Hint: we like big houses. [Washington Post]

Sticker fail: Remember when the EPA announced that it had redesigned the mileage efficiency stickers on new cars and one version featured a big letter grade based on the car’s fuel efficiency? It seemed like a sure winner. Apparently not. A new survey revealed that two-thirds of the people queried didn’t like the big letter grades and 38 percent even said they would buy a car graded C or lower. [GreenBiz]

Track to the future: Not only does China have more miles of high-speed rail than any other country, it now owns the record for the fastest train. [Discovery News]

It’s not easy getting green: Fossil fuel company execs realize that someday clean energy will rule. But they also know it will take a long time to replace oil and coal. [Scientific American]

When it rained, it poured: Another tidbit for the extreme weather of 2010 files: The 19.66 inches of rain that fell over three days this week in Wilmington, North Carolina is the highest three-day total since records were first kept in 1871. [Climate Progress]