The risks of bowing to pressure from the oil industry to allow exploratory drilling less than 5 miles off the coast of Florida are being graphically demonstrated 52 miles from the coast of Louisiana -
'The US government has designated the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as an "incident of national significance".
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters that this move would allow resources to be ordered in from other areas of the US.
Up to 5,000 barrels of oil a day may be now be leaking into the water after last week's explosion on a BP-operated rig, which then sank.
The US Coast Guard says oil is expected to start washing ashore on Friday.
A state of emergency has been declared in the state of Louisiana, whose coastline is the most threatened by the spill....
She told a White House briefing: "Today I will be designating that this is a spill of national significance. What that means is that we can now draw down assets from across the country, other coastal areas... (and) that we will have centralised communications because the spill is now crossing different regions."
Later, President Barack Obama said "every single available resource" of government, including the military, would be used to help with the oil spill.
"The entire US government is doing everything possible, not just to respond to this incident, but also to determine its cause," he said.
Meanwhile, the government has ordered inspections of all deep-water oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico to see if anti-spill regulations are being followed...'
How reassuring to discover that the US Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency doesn't appear to currently know if the oil industry is actually adhering to anti-spill regulations...
Needless to say the disaster on the BP-operated, Deepwater Horizon rig is not just an environmental problem, it will also impact on commercial interests -
'A resident of Bay Saint Louis in Mississippi, John Gerger, told the BBC the smell of oil was becoming stronger along the Gulf Coast.
"It's as though a diesel truck is parked in the front yard," he said.
"The potential impact of the slick could be devastating on an area that has just recovered from [Hurricane] Katrina.
"Fishing and shrimping is such an important industry here, and could take a massive hit.
"Local fishermen have been advised to go out and try to recover as much as they can before the slick approaches land."
- BBC News
(image courtesy of Mila Zinkova)