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RICK'S LIST

Oil Slick Nears U.S. Coastline; Arizona Firestorm

Aired April 30, 2010 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: They have changed the law in Arizona over one of the questions that we have been asking for the last week. I'm going to tell you what it is. And we're expecting a news conference any moment now.

Janet Napolitano is going to be there. Bobby Jindal is going to be there. Look, this situation, I know you have said it in the last hour, Ali, but we're going to be hearing it from the horses' mouths now, because they are going to be telling us straight, we think, about how bad the situation is now in the Gulf of Mexico, especially for some of the shoreline areas.

Here's what else is on the LIST.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Here is what is making the LIST on this day.

Hostages taken at gunpoint from a store, forced into a car that then speeds away. We're going to show you how this story ends.

Hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil leaking into the Gulf, it is drifting closer to shorelines, marine life endangered, livelihoods threatened

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a disaster. It's a crying shame what's happening.

SANCHEZ: We're learning about another law in other states where police round up illegal immigrants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) a place where I'm being treated like a criminal.

SANCHEZ: What are the consequences of that law?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's bunk. That's absolute bull. There's no racial profiling involved with this.

SANCHEZ: Her hot pink dress put her smack in the middle of a debate about sex and gender roles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Believe it or not, everyday women are discriminated, whether it be at home by their husbands or at work. SANCHEZ: Now, she's spinning that controversy into a career. We track her down in Brazil for our follow-up list.

The lists you need to know about. Who's today's most intriguing? Who's making news on Twitter? It's why I keep a list, pioneering tomorrow's cutting-edge news right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: All right, hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez. We're coming to you from New York today.

Before we do anything else, let me bring this to your attention. I know that there's this news conference that's going to get started at any moment now. But I want to bring this to your attention, all right? Roger, get out of that. We will go to that in a minute. Get out of that picture. Come back to me.

All right, this is very important, because I had been talking about this since early this week, remember? We were trying to drill down on exactly what it was that the Arizona law said. And, remember, the very first question that we raised is, why does it say lawful contact?

In other words, any time a police officer comes in lawful contact with a citizen that he believes that may be an illegal immigrant, then he has the right to detain them, question them, et cetera, et cetera.

And we were wondering what the word lawful contact meant, so we asked the chief of Phoenix, the chief of Tucson. I had one of the heads on from the police board in Arizona. And none of them seemed to be able to give me a straight answer, almost as if they weren't sure. To their -- in their defense they said at time that they were still kind of going through this and seeing how they were going to set up the procedures.

Well, guess what? Here's the news I want to bring you on this day. Arizona has changed the law. They have changed the bill that we have been questioning and asking questions about. It's no going to longer say lawful contact. It now says the word lawful contact will be changed to lawful stop, detention, or arrest.

Well, what does that mean? Essentially, it means that a police officer has to first notice or deal with a crime in progress and then, after dealing with the persons involved in that, can ask them, by the way, are you legally a resident of the United States of America?

In other words, it's not the question about whether they're illegal coming before the crime. There has to be a crime being committed or one being investigated that the police officers believe is a crime, and then, during that investigation, they're allowed to ask about whether the person is a legal resident of the United States.

Now, this is the consistent -- this is the consistent story that's been told to me by every police officer that I have asked and interviewed on this show. It's not what the law said, but it's what every police officer has told me. Now, that's important.

In the meantime, before we get to that, there's a news conference that's about to start any moment now in New Orleans. And this is a news conference from two of the big heavy hitters down there. This is going to be Bobby Jindal and Janet Napolitano, and they're going to be going through just what the federal and state governments are doing to try and control this situation.

They're also going to be talking about what the effect has already been as of late last night, when some of the very first tar balls literally started washing up on some of the preserves off the coast of Louisiana, what effect this might have as well on parts of Alabama and parts of Mississippi as well. So, we're going to be taking you through these.

As a matter of fact, before we do anything else, let's go to some of the pictures that we have been getting thus far. We have got about four or five different correspondents spread out along the Gulf Coast, all of them covering different parts of this story, fisheries issue, obviously the coastline issue, the beaches issue having to do with tourism, and, of course, that preserve that we have been talking about, which is that point that sticks out just below -- just below New Orleans.

Chad Myers has been checking on this for us throughout the course of the day.

I don't know, Chad. Have you got your ears up?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Sure.

SANCHEZ: And you can give us a handle on where we are on this thing right now?

MYERS: We still have southeast winds blowing that water mixed with the oil onto the shore.

Now, shore is a relative term there in southern Louisiana, because you can't really find land at least for the first 30 miles. It's swamp, literally. Talk to General Honore. He will tell you, there's ditches and swamps. That's basically -- and bayous. That's all you get there.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

MYERS: And so, when we finally get this oil up into Venice, which is the first real town with real hard roads in places that people actually farm, that's when we will know that this sheen is getting there.

We have heard reports, though, of this rainbow sheen being on the water. Rainbow sheen means it's about the thickness of a sheet of paper or less. You can't burn that. You can't corral that. You can't do much with that. And it eventually will evaporate because it's light sweet crude, not that heavy sour stuff that got dumped in Exxon Valdez. Go ahead. (CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: I just want to stop you because I always hate when we talk about video and we're showing video, but we're not telling about what's in the video, what -- these pictures that we're looking at now.

It's the first time that I have pictures related to actual shoreline. What shoreline was that that we were seeing there just moments ago that looked desolate, by the way?

MYERS: Well, I think that's Brian Todd's video. And we're talking -- this is St. Bernard Parish all the way -- this is like the Breton area. If you go and you look at a map of Louisiana, and you look at the very, very mouth of the Mississippi, it's 70 miles from New Orleans. It's way, way, southeast of New Orleans.

So, this isn't anywhere near the city of New Orleans or anywhere near those canals or Lake Pontchartrain, nothing there. And it is very desolate, but look at all the seabirds flying around. That's where -- they're going to get it first. They're going to be eating the shrimp and eating the plankton and all those other things. That food chain is going to get contaminated and we're going to lose millions and millions of animals.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: All right, let's bring -- folks, what we're doing here is, we're waiting on a very important news conference, perhaps the first of its type between federal and state officials where they address the specific problems that are taking place as a result of this gigantic oil spill and leak, which, as we have learned in just the last couple of days, is bigger than we first thought.

Let's go to Brian Todd. He's one of our many correspondents spread out around -- along the Gulf.

Brian, what are you learning? What are you being told? What are we expecting to hear from these -- from Janet Napolitano and Governor Bobby Jindal?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think you would probably expect to hear, Rick, that they're going to say that this oil has either crept extremely close or has breached some areas of the shoreline, because that's what we just saw in our flyover of the southeast pass of the Breton Wildlife Refuge and areas along what they call Plaquemines Parish, that area that just juts out into the Gulf in southeastern Louisiana.

We saw slivers of oil that sneaked through some inlets there in the southeast pass. That's right near the mouth of the Mississippi River. The oil was not thick. It didn't look overly extensive, but it is starting to sneak through now. We also saw booms that have been laid along the coastline, a boom that had been laid around that Breton Island Wildlife Refuge, but those booms in many areas have been breached because the sea is very turbulent right now. Whitecaps are washing over the booms. They're washing onshore. As Chad mentioned, the winds are blowing from the southeast to northwest, not good news. And they are blowing very hard.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: I just want to interrupt you, Todd, for just a moment to let you know that we have just learned that we're two minutes away from the start of this news conference.

Officials say that both the governor and Janet Napolitano are going to be walking out any moment now. When -- I think when folks at home watch reporters like you working on a story like this, they almost want to get a sense of what the real damage might be. How bad, people watching at home would probably want to know from you, do you suspect or have you been told that this thing could be for the shorelines of some of America's most beautiful beaches, Todd?

TODD: You're hearing some pretty dire predictions and some real concern here, Rick.

Local officials in Plaquemines Parish all along the coast are scrambling. They're hiring fishermen just to get out there and lay boom. And it's a real scramble right now to try to do that. And they are extremely worried, and when you fly over this area, and you just incredibly vast areas of swampland, marsh, beautiful wildlife that is all around, and it's all exposed right now.

There is boom around the coastline, but it doesn't cover but a sliver of it. I mean, there are just vast areas here. The oil's heading right toward it, and when you fly over it, you get a sense that there's some real exposure here and it could be massive here and it could be very devastating.

SANCHEZ: What about -- hey, Chad, let me bring you back in to this. You've been watching what could happen. What about beaches?

Oh, by the way, I think we're getting some movement. Go to that full shot, if you could, Rog. Is that Janet Napolitano walking in? I can't tell. There we're getting -- yes, that's Janet Napolitano on the right. There's the governor. It looks like they're about to begin.

So, we're going to dip into this.

MYERS: OK.

SANCHEZ: And, Chad, I will talk to you on the backside, all right?

Here's Governor Bobby Jindal of the great state of Louisiana. Oh, that looks like Ken Salazar.

(CROSSTALK)

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: I want to, first of all, start by saying I want to thank Secretary Napolitano, Secretary Salazar, Administrator Jackson, Administrator Lubchenco, Director Browner and the many others for coming down to Louisiana and seeing firsthand not only the spill, but the effects of the spill that it's having on Louisiana's waters and Louisiana's coasts, as well as the response efforts.

I appreciated the phone call from the president yesterday. As I told him yesterday, we are certainly urging the federal government and BP to deploy even more resources to help mitigate the impact of the oil spill that is threatening the coast of our state.

We must certainly do everything we can to contain the oil spill that threatens our wildlife and vast natural resources. I'm certainly worried that the booms as currently deployed are not effective. The areas that will be impacted first by this oil spoil therefore are critical and fragile coastal sites.

These next few days are critical. That's why we must do everything necessary, everything possible to protect our coasts. Now, I do have concerns. I have shared these concerns that BP's current resources are not adequate to meet the three challenges we face. I have urged them to seek even more help from the federal government and from others.

The three challenges we face are stopping the leak, protecting our coast, preparation for a swift cleanup of our impacted areas. We have also been working with local officials to assess their needs to help them request resources from BP and the Coast Guard.

It's critical the Coast Guard and BP uphold their commitment, their responsibility to provide to the coastal areas that could be impacted by this spill.

On the state side, I want to update you on some of the steps we're taking. We're taking every step we can to help protect our coast, our wildlife, our environment, our people.

Last night, I sent letters to Secretary Gates, Secretary Napolitano requesting the Louisiana National Guard be placed under Federal Title 32 status, so that we can mobilize the resources of the National Guard.

I want to thank the secretary. She told us they were working very hard on that request. This would provide support for at least 90 days of military duty for up to 6,000 soldiers and airmen serving on active duty in support of our response to the threat of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The National Guard could help provide security, medical capabilities, engineers, cleanup efforts, and communications support in response to this threat. After helping our state respond and recover from four storms in recent years, the Guard is especially ready to help us respond to this particular oil spill.

If the Department of Defense approves this request, the National Guard is prepared on the first phase of the deployment to immediately activate 600 Guardsmen, have them on the ground. They're already ordering 1,500 protective suits, so they're prepared to help support the cleanup efforts. We're also working to make sure that our fisheries, our small businesses are protected from the oil spill. We have written the U.S. secretary of commerce, requesting the declaration of a commercial fisheries failure, as well as support from the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration for commercial and recreational fishing businesses.

This declaration will provide financial assistance to our individual fishermen, assistance for the restoration of fisheries and assistance for commercial and recreational fishing businesses.

As many of you know, Louisiana is the top producer of commercial fisheries in the lower 48 states. It's one of the top recreational fishing destinations in the country. This oil spill will certainly adversely affect the productivity of this ecosystem and fishing families across the state.

It's critical that our fisherman and their families have the type of support they need to get through this event. We have also had asked the U.S. Small Business Administration to activate all appropriate federal disaster declaration clauses that enable the SBA to help the small businesses in our state that we know will be impacted by this oil spill.

Specifically, we're asking the SBA to consider temporarily suspending loan repayments for coastal businesses that are impacted by the oil spill and/or also those who have 2005 and 2008 SBA disaster and economic injury loans as a result of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike, and Gustav.

On the state side, we're working hard to support the response efforts. Yesterday, we declared a state of emergency, which positions our state to deploy assets and engage and help the federal government and BP. Our Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority officials are opening the Caernarvon Diversion in Plaquemines Parish and the Davis Pond Diversion in St. Charles Parish to try to help prevent any oil from penetrating deep into coastal marshes.

The authority is also working on a second line of defense in the wetlands where they could actually anchor booms in place to try to preserve some of our most fragile and important ecosystems.

Today, our Office of Homeland Security is reaching out to other states through the EMAC, the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, to identify oil spoil coordinators. The Office of Homeland Security is also deploying staff to Plaquemines Parish, St. Bernard Parish to help their emergency responders with the oil spill effort.

We have set a command center, a mobile command center here in Robert. We are also sending a mobile command center to the Coast Guard site in Houma. The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has closed the Lower Breton Sound area to shrimpers. They plan to close the Upper Breton Sound area at 6:00 p.m. tonight. The Lower Breton Sound was closed as of 6:00 a.m. this morning.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has also deployed 40 field biologists for testing purposes. They have got 160 additional biologists staged for wildlife rescues as they become necessary. The Department of Environmental Quality has got 40 regional staff members with oil spill and hazard experience that will be deployed.

DEQ and DHH have reported that residents of coastal areas of southeast Louisiana, including New Orleans, may be detecting an odor possibly resulting from the oil spill approaching the coast. DHH and DEQ have requested continuous air quality testing and monitoring from the EPA. DEQ will be assisting the EPA by increasing the frequency of air sampling at its Kenner and Chalmette monitors.

SANCHEZ: OK. While Bobby Jindal speed-reads through some forms given to him by some of his staff about some very specific explanations as to parts of the coastline that most of us don't -- aren't that familiar with, let's take a quick break.

And we will hopefully get a little bit of Janet Napolitano as well doing some Q&A with some of the reporters and correspondents and local media there as well, so we can maybe get a better handle on what's going on there.

In the meantime, we're obviously going to be all over the change in the Arizona law. There's two -- at least two that I can see major changes going on there.

Oh, and there's something else. I have just been told that we have just been able to confirm the booking of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has come out today through his organization with a lawsuit against the federal government for -- pardon me -- for what is going on in the Gulf of Mexico.

It's called the Waterkeeper Alliance. They will be answering some of the questions. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president of Waterkeeper Alliance, has filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the commercial fishermen in Louisiana. And Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will be joining us here shortly to take us through that.

Let's get a break in right now. Hopefully, we will come back with some of the answers to the questions that so many have, including the address by Janet Napolitano and the conclusion of Bobby Jindal's statement that he's been speed-reading through.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: OK.

Here now, Janet Napolitano coming to the defense of the feds for some of the criticism that they have been receiving in this mess off the Gulf.

Let's go ahead and dip into that, Rog.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS) JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Our visit is also helping to inform our investigation into the causes of the explosion, which left 11 workers presumed dead and three critically injured, in addition to the ongoing oil spill.

Following the explosion, we also immediately began responding to the environmental implications of this spill and began to direct oversight in support of BP's cleanup and containment efforts, setting up a command center here, and working across the federal government to ensure a strong and steady battle rhythm.

Yesterday, I announced the designation of this spill as a spill of national significance, in consultation with the Coast Guard commandant. This means that there are substantial -- that this is a substantial release of oil or hazardous substances, which will require sustained involvement of senior officials across the government.

Aside from being an acknowledgement of the seriousness of this spill, it also commits the Coast Guard to dedicating additional senior agency staff and resources to the response. The Environmental Protection Agency also has the same authority with respect to inland waterway spills.

Now, the coordinated federal partnership, including the departments of Homeland Security, Defense, Commerce, Interior, and the EPA, continues to oversee BP's deployment of a combination of tactics. This week, as you know, BP began conducting controlled burns designed to remove large quantities of oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline, marine, and other wildlife.

BP continues to use chemical dispersants, which, along with natural dispersions of oil, will address a large part of the slick -- 139,459 gallons of dispersant have been used to date.

Among other responsive activities include skimming, subsurface wellhead operations, and significant booming efforts to protect Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama shoreline. Nearly 220,000 feet of boom have been deployed at six staging locations, and hundreds of thousands of feet are staged and ready to be deployed.

Approximately 1,900 personnel are currently deployed, and over 853,000 gallons of oily water have been collected so far using 300 vessels and dozens of aircraft engaged in the response.

The Department of Defense is fully integrated into the Department of Homeland Security-led team and is fully supportive of all response activities. Navy assets have actually been involved since day one, and DOD continues to offer what is needed as the situation develops.

The secretary of defense has approved a request for two C-130 aircraft to dispense oil dispersant chemicals capable to covering up to 250 acres per flight, with three flights per aircraft per day. They are currently en route to the affected areas.

The Coast Guard has requested additional assistance from the Department of Defense. Additionally, the Navy has sent thousands of feet of inflatable oil boom and other vital equipment and personnel to support the oil response efforts in direct support of the Coast Guard under the existing pollution cleanup and salvage operations agreement that we have with them.

A Naval air station, Pensacola, is serving as that staging facility. We will continue to push BP to engage in the strongest possible response, while taking steps to ensure the protection of our shoreline and our wildlife and our precious lands.

And with that, I welcome the secretary of interior, Ken Salazar.

KEN SALAZAR, U.S. INTERIOR SECRETARY: Thank you very much, Secretary Napolitano.

And to all of the federal team who are her here, Administrator Jackson from the EPA, Jane Lubchenco, the undersecretary for NOAA, as well as Admiral Landry and David Hayes, the deputy secretary of interior, Governor Jindal and all the other elected officials who are here.

First, I want to recognize the terrific leadership of Admiral Landry from day one and the rest of the federal team who has been here on site. It's been across -- it's been an effort, a team effort, across all the agencies of the federal government.

My deputy secretary, David Hayes, was dispatched down here by me on order when the incident occurred. We have been monitoring this minute by minute. And while we still have a long ways to go, and we do not know exactly where we are going, we are confident that the federal team of the United States of America as directed by the president is doing everything that we possibly can do.

As soon as we learned about the explosion, we came down here to help in the search-and-rescue efforts. And, as time has evolved, we know that today the situation is still a dangerous one.

British Petroleum has a massive spill for which they are responsible. The oil threatens communities, wildlife, and natural resources around the Gulf of Mexico. Our focus remains, as it has for the last 10 days, on overseeing BP's efforts to secure their wellhead that is spilling oil and minimizing the damage that could come.

Yesterday, at BP's command center in Houston, I pressed the CEOs of BP as well as the engineers to work harder and faster and smarter to get the job done.

I have asked other companies from across the oil and gas industry to bring their global expertise to the situation to make sure that no idea that is worth pursuing is not pursued. And under President Obama's direction, every resource that Secretary Napolitano stated is being made available to respond.

We cannot rest and we will not rest until BP permanently seals the wellhead and until they clean up every drop of oil. The weather this weekend presents a challenge. But the strong interagency effort and our coordination with local and state partners means that we have plans in place, resources deployed, and the people we need to fight the fight.

At the same time, though, the spill raises many questions about safety on drilling rigs and platforms in the deep water. I have ordered immediate inspections of all deepwater operations in the Gulf of Mexico, and we have issued a safety notice to all operators, reminding them of their responsibilities to follow our regulations and to conduct full and thorough tests of their equipment, including the blowout prevention stacks.

Today, I'm also signing a secretarial order establishing an Outer Continental Shelf safety review board within the United States Department of Interior. The assistant secretary for land and minerals, along with the inspector general for the department, will lead this effort.

They will provide recommendations for steps that we can take to strengthen OCS safety and to improve overall management. They will look at all options, and they will provide oversight and support to MMS as they conduct their joint investigation of the incident, which was ordered by Secretary Napolitano and by me a few days ago.

I am confident that we will get to the bottom of what happened here. Those responsible will be held accountable, and the lessons we learn will help guide us as we responsibly and safely develop our nation's energy resources.

I will now introduce the administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson.

LISA JACKSON, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY ADMINISTRATOR: Thank you, Ken.

Thanks, everybody.

The situation began as a human tragedy, and my heart and my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who are presumed lost.

And it has evolved, and it has evolved into an environmental challenge of the first order, unprecedented in its situation, but not in terms of the need to respond, using all the lessons that we have learned in the past, but realizing that we must be flexible and willing to move quickly to adjust to the situation as we find it on the ground here.

And EPA is certainly a part of that. From the beginning, we have been in support of the Coast Guard as they moved swiftly to search- and-rescue and the efforts around it, with NOAA's assistance in trying to predict when this might make landfall. As situations and weather has worsened, which has brought this material closer to shore, we have had to change our approach.

EPA is part of a team, though. For every environmental challenge, certainly one like this, it will require a team of people focusing on multiple aspects, some of which we know and some of which present -- present data challenges and questions. We will work with...

SANCHEZ: So, this incident is now being handled by I guess all the bigs from Washington. Just to name a few, the Department of Commerce is there. Homeland Security is obviously there. The Department of the Interior is there in the form of Ken Salazar.

And now we're hearing from one of the directors of the EPA, along with, of course, the governments of states like Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, parts of Florida. It's a it's a major undertaking, one which is not going to be taken care of overnight, one which will probably now we hear last possibly months.

When we come back, we will be dipping back into that news conference to learn the very latest about what officials are saying, And we're also going to be getting the other side of this story, which is now the very first lawsuit that's been filed by the son of Bobby Kennedy. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has filed a lawsuit on behalf of some of the fishermen in the area.

Stay with us. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. We're going to keep an eye on that news conference that's taking place in Louisiana.

In the meantime, I want to switch gears here, if I can. Another example, I suppose, of politician's words coming back to haunt him. This is President Obama just two days after he announced his plan to open more of America's coastline to offshore drilling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don't cause spills. They are technologically very advanced. Even during Katrina, the spills didn't come from the oil rigs. They came from the refineries onshore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: OK, that was three weeks before the Deep Horizon's rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, before what was seen as a manageable -- manageable oil leak, turned out to be much, much worse. In fact, five times as worse if you want to quantify it.

Now a raft of news outlets are questioning whether the fed's response has been too little and too late. They're asking if this might be president Obama's Katrina moment. Stop quote.

White house senior adviser David Axelrod, was asked about this this morning. Here's what he said --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: We've been coordinating closely with the local authorities and with the responsible party, BP, down there to deal with this from the very beginning. I'm not concerned about that. What I'm concerned about is that we do every single thing we can to remediate this problem, to stop the flow, and that's what's going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: So, is this really president Obama's Katrina moment or are some in the media simply looking for one? Jessica Yellin's been checking in on this. Real-deal reference here, Jessica, or just kind of Washington political spin that we get from time to time? How serious is this starting to look -- we know it's serious in the Gulf, but politically?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Politically I think it's a little bit of spin right now, Rick. You know, they get criticized for being a little slow off the mark, only yesterday did they declare a national emergency, you can cite all sorts of factors.

But you know the coast guard's been there since the start. This isn't Katrina. We're not talking about thousands of people stranded on rooftops with no food or water screaming for help with network anchors on the ground and government workers saying they can't get in.

So, clearly the impact from the spill could be ecologically and environmentally huge, but the Katrina reference means the federal government was out of touch and asleep at the switch. And the show of force we just saw from those many government officials on the ground shows it hasn't been that.

SANCHEZ: Yes, but, you know, the one thing that might be very problematic for this administration is this thing's not going to go away overnight.

YELLIN: Right.

SANCHEZ: I've been reading reports today that seem to indicate it could take them upwards of 60 days, maybe more, maybe months to finally cap this leak. I mean, this thing's going to be in the news cycle for quite some time. That usually becomes somewhat problematic when it's just sitting out there like a hindrance in the background.

YELLIN: Yes, I do think that it will continue to nag at them and be a problem. People will question what they've done, but we'll also see them on intense damage control and aggressively reminding everybody what they're doing.

So, we've seen the president talking about this for now two days, telling us what he's doing. They put the cabinet secretaries out for a briefing yesterday. And, again, that press, we're going to constantly be reminded how hard they're working.

SANCHEZ: Let's talk about the timing of this as well, because it wasn't too long ago that the president came out with his offshore drilling initiative. And now you have this, you know, some people, like Bobby Kennedy, who will be my guest coming up here in just a little bit here, Robert G. Kennedy Jr., are going to say, see, that was not a smart decision, that was not a smart decision, Mr. President.

Look, any chance the president might go back on his word on this thing?

YELLIN: Well, I don't know that he'll go back on his word. But what he would do -- I mean, you heard in that interview that David Axelrod gave this morning, he also said that before they proceed with any plans for new offshore drilling sites they're going to study this further, study the effects and the safety.

Now, the White House is insisting that that's what they had planned all along, but that could be an escape hatch to draw back their plans, for instant drilling. It's certainly going to make it a lot harder to get political support among Democrats. The timing, Rick, couldn't be worse.

SANCHEZ: What's interesting about this, here is the president of the United States who has been called by many on the right, you know, albeit the extreme right, a socialist and a communist, et cetera, et cetera.

YELLIN: Right.

SANCHEZ: And he has come out and said he wants to drill off the coast of the United States. That's not a Democratic initiative. And he wants to build as many as 19 more nuclear plants over the next 20 years. My numbers may be off on that. Regardless, he wants to go into nuclear energy.

Those are not lefty, liberal, weenie policies. Those are very much conservative issues.

YELLIN: Right. And it's his effort to show he's willing to take some ideas from the other side in the hopes they'll take some of his and reach a consensus.

SANCHEZ: And along comes an oil spill and makes it look like maybe he should have stayed on the left on that issue.

YELLIN: It's really inconvenient time.

And then there's the whole drill, baby, drill crowd. What is their position?

SANCHEZ: Why isn't Sarah Palin coming out and saying I saw the damage?

YELLIN: She tweeted something.

SANCHEZ: Well, I'm in New York and I'm not in control of my --

YELLIN: Your tweeting situation?

SANCHEZ: My tweeting situation. (LAUGHTER)

Do you know what it is?

YELLIN: I should have brought that. I know she said basically that her heart goes out to everybody who's affected on the coast and is worried right now and that all resources should be deployed.

SANCHEZ: Look at you. Look at you. Oh, look at that!

YELLIN: Check you guys out, are you good?

SANCHEZ: This is all Angie Massie, she's my twitter-meister. "Having lived through the Exxon oil spill my family and I understand Gulf residents' fears. My prayers are with you. All industry efforts must be employed."

YELLIN: Nice. You didn't even coordinate that. That's impressive.

SANCHEZ: Jessica, if I don't talk to you before the end of this newscast, I want you to have a fantastic weekend.

YELLIN: You too, Rick.

SANCHEZ: See you.

YELLIN: Enjoy New York.

SANCHEZ: When we come back, we'll take you back to some of the results about what's going on down there in the Gulf of Mexico. We'll talk to our team of correspondents who are up and down the coastlines. This is a very serious problem.

And stay tuned for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who has got a lot to say about this as well.

And the very latest on the change of law in immigration in Arizona. That's right, the law you thought was the law is not actually the law, and it all comes down to one very important word. What is it? We'll tell you. Stay right there. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Sometimes some of the best stories are the ones that change just as they're being told. I want to bring your attention now to something that you are probably familiar with, because we brought it to your attention the other day.

Look at the back of that pickup truck. It says "Everything I need to learn from Islam I learned from this." And then they show 9/11.

Now, look at the license plate as well. You see the numbers on there? 14CV88. Well, an organization, CARE, which is in defense of Muslims in the United States, activists that they are, noticed this, and they complained about it. And they said the license plate, above all, that license plate right there, was an indication because of the combination of the numbers, 14 and C and V and 88 is a reference to white supremacy, a reference, in fact, to Adolf Hitler.

Well, since then the story changed. You see the number 14 and the number 88? The driver of the car has said, wait a minute, I like stock car drivers. I like NASCAR. I like race car driving, and guess what? The number 14 is referring to Tony Stewart, one of my favorite drivers. The number 88, it's another one of my favorite drivers. That's Dale Earnhardt Jr., pardon me for mispronouncing that.

So, we're coming back to a story that we reported on the other day to give that gentleman, that driver, the benefit of the doubt. I want to bring Brooke Baldwin in to this story now. She's been looking in to this throughout the day.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

SANCHEZ: You know, it's kind of like a ping-pong match, this story.

BALDWIN: Back and forth.

SANCHEZ: Part of it is too, you know, I don't know enough about -- you know, about NASCAR to have recognized those two numbers and questioned it at the time that we did the story.

BALDWIN: Sure.

SANCHEZ: We reported what CARE had alleged about the story.

BALDWIN: Right.

SANCHEZ: Now he's coming back and saying no, CARE is wrong, but now you're here to tell us "The Washington Post" has been diligently reporting on this, we've tried to do some independent reporting. We've spoken to him. What is his name?

BALDWIN: Douglas Story. And you're right, Rick, it kind of ping-pong, there's all kinds of bits and pieces. Let me try to sit here and put them together.

You say here a couple of days ago, you showed this guy Story, you showed the back of his car. CARE is very upset, sayin absolutely this guy is anti-Islam, the DMV said we need to recall the vanity plate.

So Mr. Story out of Chantilly, Virginia, has since come forward. Yes we've talked to him at CNN. "The Washington Post" as you mentioned, a couple other news outlets have run with the story. He said, hang on a second. This has nothing to do with the Nazis and everything -- as you pointed out -- has everything to do with NASCAR.

We picked up the phone and we talked to him repeatedly. I'm disappointed because I was going to talk to him live here and get his perspective on "RICK'S LIST." he changed his mind, didn't want to talk.

"The Washington Post" is now running with the story saying they have done some digging. And they have said, hey, we found his Facebook page. There are white supremacy messages. We followed up did our due diligence. We talked to him. He said absolutely not, I have nothing to do with social media, never had a Facebook page.

So he's denying what "The Washington Post" is reporting.

SANCHEZ: So, well, this is interesting, because CARE said it's not that he's just anti-Islam, he's a white supremacist.

BALDWIN: White supremacist, yes.

SANCHEZ: And that's different. And it takes it to a whole new level especially if you were to tie the numbers which tie him to Hitler and all that stuff.

BALDWIN: Sure.

SANCHEZ: He said they don't equate because they are his favorite drivers.

BALDWIN: Sure.

BALDWIN: So essentially we have a stalemate.

BALDWIN: Total stalemate.

SANCHEZ: Fine.

Let's go to the other part, the Facebook page which apparently there are messages to white supremacist groups.

BALDWIN: "I'm 100 percent Aryan race, 100 percent white." But he's saying "I don't know what you're talking about, "Washington Post," I do not and never had a Facebook page."

SANCHEZ: "The Washington Post," though, is, in fact, declaratively stating that, in fact, that is his Facebook page, correct?

BALDWIN: Correct.

SANCHEZ: They're a pretty reputable organization, correct?

BALDWIN: They are.

SANCHEZ: But he's coming back -- now, we had him on the phone and I under he called Janelle, one of our staffers --

BALDWIN: Right.

SANCHEZ: -- one of our bookers, and abruptly canceled the interview that he was going to do with you and I? BALDWIN: I was bummed out. He totally canceled. In fact, I talked to Janelle earlier, he hung up on her. And we had repeatedly followed up and called him back, and finally we got a hold of him today to ask him about what "The Washington Post" was reporting, and so we did at least talk to him today.

And that, again, is when he said "I don't know what they're talking about."

SANCHEZ: We'll have to leave it here.

BALDWIN: Stalemate.

SANCHEZ: It's what he says. It's what "The Washington Post" says. It's what CARE says.

BALDWIN: Right.

SANCHEZ: And what he says. And somewhere in there is the truth and we'll keep digging and hopefully we'll be able to get to the bottom of it.

What else do you got for us, by the way?

BALDWIN: I have got a story out of Mexico City that kind of starts like a movie scene. If we can, let's roll it. Our of Mexico City, this a real hostage situation, these are two robbers coming out of the jewelry store, this pawn shop, guns to these guys' heads. They took two hostages, kicking them -- you see them -- forcing them in this police car at gunpoint.

Now, what happens next is this massive police chase. You'll see the video go up to the helicopter. You got helicopter. You've got cops, about 100 officers -- there it is -- 100 officers, chasing this car. They essentially weave back and forth through the streets of Mexico City.

Finally they catch the two bad guys and I'm told the hostages are OK.

SANCHEZ: That's crazy, I'll tell you.

BALDWIN: Crazy.

SANCHEZ: And there's just too much of that going on. Can you imagine the poor guy with the gun pointed to the side of his head?

BALDWIN: No, sir, I wouldn't want that to be me.

SANCHEZ: Welcome back, by the way, the "Brooke Block." And you are going to have something special for us in our next hour I understand?

BALDWIN: I do.

SANCHEZ: Go ahead and give us a little tease. BALDWIN: We found this amazing story yesterday about this young lady who has broken the law the last 11 years living here in the United States illegally, but by the way she's going to college and is a couple months shy of getting her college degree.

She gets in trouble with the law because she had a minor traffic violation. Fast-forward, she's in jail, about to be deported. She said she's the victim of a law that is supposed to be targeting the hardened criminals, these hardened criminal illegal aliens.

Let's take closer look at this law and see what the federal government is saying, what she's saying, what her mom is saying. It's an interesting story.

SANCHEZ: But she is in the country illegally?

BALDWIN: Yes. She's breaking the law.

SANCHEZ: OK. Good stuff. Come back, missed you yesterday.

BALDWIN: Me, too.

SANCHEZ: See you in the next hour.

Let me tell you what is going on. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is filing a lawsuit on behalf of the fisherman off the Gulf Coast as a result of what's happened there. We'll talk directly to him. Stay right there. You're watching the national conversation, "RICK'S LIST."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. This is your list.

And the president of United States is now tweeting off the situation off the Gulf of Mexico and we saw the conversations taking place regarding the possibility that his administration might have been a little late in getting to the apparent -- I don't know if it's a disaster. Certainly it's an ecological disaster.

Here's what the president said. Ready? "My administration will continue to use every single available resource at our disposal to address the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico."

And by that it means many of his cabinet makers. If you're joining us now, late there's a news conference that we dipped into. EPA is there, Department of Commerce, Homeland Security is there, the Department of the Interior is there, and of course all the different state boards from all the coastal states there along the Gulf of Mexico. We will be all over it for you.

In the meantime it just keeps getting worse, the spill itself, that is. Now there are hundreds and thousands of oil that are threatening the gulf coast. We have correspondents all throughout the Gulf Coast states and they will be filing reports throughout the next half hour.

And we're also going to be talking to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. live in just a few minutes to talk about a class action lawsuit that he's filing on behalf of the fishermen of that region. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

Sometimes the best way to tell a story is through a side bar. A side bar is a story not directly related to the story but interestingly enough to be told around it.

This is such a side bar. Interesting to note of what is going on in the Gulf of Mexico, all the ecological damage that could occur as a result of, well, thousands of gallons of oil being spilled intoed it atmosphere.

Well, here's the thing. One of the best things that we could do to try to preserve ecologically many of the seas, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean, create environment where fish will be attracted create environments where some of the bottom areas, the Coral Reef, for example, will come back to life.

Now, wouldn't it be interesting if we could do that through the burials of the cremated remains of human beings? Believe or not, that's what this story is about.

One of our best on our staff, Alicia, decided to put this story together and here, for her sake, we present it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He passed away in November 2008. And he loved fishing and when I found this online, I knew this was perfect for him. He said that he wanted to be in the ocean.

John Joseph Jr.

JARED CEPIEL, LOST DAD TO CANCER: I'm really sad for my dad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is perfect. He'd love this.

DON BRAWLEY, FOUNDER, ETERNAL REEF: Each family has a memorial reef out there, cap that off. What we will do today is put a little bit of concrete, take the molds and buckets, and add a little bit of remain.

We developed that in the early '90s. We were scuba divers, and we wanted to do something to help the reef.

In '98 my dad said I want you to take my remains and put them in the artificial reefs you built.

TAMMIE STAHL, BURYING HUSBAND: Mike was a fossil hunter, diver, down in Charleston, South Carolina. And so these are some teeth that he found in the river.

I couldn't think of anything else. He would never want to have a tombstone in a graveyard where someone would see him. He would much rather we look out over the ocean and think of him.

CLINT PARSON, LOST WIFE TO CANCER: When we found out that she was terminally ill, we discovered the Eternal Reef's program and discovered that it was sort of the thing that we all wanted to be involved in.