|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Hours before the spill started washing ashore in Louisiana late Thursday, members of Congress issued new calls for Obama to abandon his plans for expanded offshore drilling, and White House officials conceded that the spreading oil slick could cause the president to rethink his position. "We need to figure out what happened," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "Would a finding of something possibly affect that? Of course."
The outlook in the Gulf of Mexico remained bleak in the wake of the April 20 explosion that sank the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and killed 11 workers. A change in the weather and choppy waters prevented a second burn of oil at sea and slowed efforts by a flotilla of ships to skim the oily mixture from the surface of the gulf, federal officials said. Continuing efforts to use remote-controlled robotic submarines to activate a malfunctioning blowout preventer lying on the sea floor in 5,000 feet of water failed.
State lawmakers expressed growing concern about whether the federal government and corporate officials are reacting with the speed and resources required to avert an environmental and fishing industry disaster.
Citing memories of the faltering federal response to Hurricane Katrina nearly five years ago, Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, told the House chamber that he was "in deep concern about the lackadaisical response we have gotten on the oil spill containment."
After participating in a conference call with officials from the state and BP, Jones said he was distressed about what appeared to be a lack of plans and preparation for containment to prevent the oil from coming ashore. He said the officials have a clean-up policy, but not a prevention policy.
"I would ask the president to send all he can now," said Jones, who was an aide to Gov. Kathleen Blanco during the Katrina response. "We need the facts, we need the A-team here."
Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer, said the response is the largest oil spill containment operation in history, with more than 1,000 workers and 76 vessels.
Suttles said workers have been placing containment booms to protect Louisiana's coastline for the past four or five days. He said 34 miles of booms were in place Thursday afternoon, with nearly 60 more miles of boom on hand.
He said workers are poised to deploy underwater dispersants to try to break up the spill before it reaches the water's surface, a new method that has never been used in the United States.
n the meantime, BP has assembled spill experts from several major oil companies to brainstorm ways to stop the leak. The company has also asked for military technology, including better underwater imaging equipment and robotic submarines.
"We're going to turn over every single stone until we get this thing stopped," Suttles said. All clean-up costs will be paid by BP, formerly British Petroleum, which saw its stock price plunge more than 8 percent Thursday.
The Department of Interior announced it will send teams to conduct safety inspections on all oil rigs and platforms in the Gulf. Three similar inspections on the Deepwater Horizon this year, including one days before the explosion, found nothing amiss.
State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham said the agency has biologists at the projected impact points along the coast to monitor the situation. He said bird nesting grounds and other wildlife habitats are in danger in the Breton Sound area.
With oil predicted to reach Pass a Loutre on Thursday night, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said he would declare a state of emergency. He said predictions are that the oil could reach marshes as far inland as Fort Jackson in four days.