The Justice Department is telling the administrator of the $20 billion fund for Gulf of Mexico oil spill victims that his job is not to preserve money or return it to BP, and is insisting he loosen the purse strings to help people who are still suffering from last year’s disaster. In a letter to Kenneth Feinberg obtained by the Associated Press, Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli alluded to the fact that only roughly $3.5 billion of the fund has been spent. Any money not spent goes back to BP. Perrelli also says that Feinberg needs to be more transparent, and he should take a second look at the emergency advance payments the fund paid to victims to determine if the process was fair.
Houston is leading the country in flights cancelled due to the harsh winter weather, with 800 flights cancelled at Bush Intercontinental Airport and a further 100 at Hobby. That’s according to online tracking service FlightAware. Conditions in Dallas are disrupting travel before Sunday’s match up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. Love Field, home to Southwest Airlines, was closed for over nine hours due to snow. Dallas-Fort Worth International has cancelled more than 700 flights. A Super Bowl official says five people have been injured, one critically, by ice falling off Cowboys Stadium.
Houston-Based Marathon Oil is partnering with Triana Energy on natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale Formation. The companies plan to develop 82,000 acres in northern West Virginia and Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Triana says up to 350 horizontal wells potentially could be drilled. The company plans to drill four wells this year.
The unemployment rate dropped sharply last month to 9%, the lowest level in nearly two years. But the economy generated only 36,000 net new jobs, the fewest in four months. Harsh snowstorms last month cut into construction employment, which fell by 32,000, the most since May. In one bright spot, manufacturing added 49,000 jobs, the most since August 1998.