This is why I oppose all offshore drilling in Bristol Bay
White House U-turn on further offshore drilling after oil spill
Chris McGreal, Washington, and agencies guardian.co.uk, Friday 30 April 2010 19.39 BST
The Obama administration has banned new oil drilling off the US coast as the first streaks of the huge and growing spill from a BP rig in the Gulf of Mexico lapped the Louisiana shore today.
A decision taken last month to ease a moratorium on new offshore oil and gas drilling was being at least temporarily reversed while the cause of last week's blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig is investigated, according to White House adviser David Axelrod. Eleven workers are missing, presumed dead.
Environmentalists say the estimated 5,000 barrels of oil a day pouring into the sea threaten to destroy large areas of fragile wetlands, kill marine life and tens of thousands of birds, and could prove to be an environmental disaster as big as the Exxon Valdez spill 21 years ago.
The US navy and air force are now directly involved in efforts to contain the slick as the weather service warned high winds and waves were likely to push the oil deep into rivers and marshes along the Louisiana coast. US coast guard crews were patrolling the coast in search of evidence that the slick had hit the shore. Officials reported small fingers of oil already reaching the shore as a forerunner to much thicker deposits several hours behind.
Obama said 300 response vessels and aircraft have been deployed, including military planes spraying dispersant chemicals. Nearly 40 miles of boom have been deployed to shield the coast.
A national response team of 16 federal organisations is leading the emergency response, according to another White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs. He said about 1,200 personnel have been deployed to help protect the shoreline and wildlife. Scores of vessels, including tugs, barges and recovery boats, are involved in containment and cleanup efforts....
"It is of grave concern," David Kennedy, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Associated Press. "I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues, are just mind-boggling...."
Marine life at risk includes dolphins, turtles and otters. Valuable shrimp and oyster beds are also threatened.
The Louisiana authorities have opened the shrimping season early to allow fishermen to make their catch before it is destroyed by oil. Oystermen said they could smell the pollution in open waters close to the marshes....
The president said the government has deployed teams to the Gulf of Mexico to inspect safety on 77 deep water oil rigs and production platforms in US waters.
The spill threatens to become the largest in US history. The Exxon Valdez tanker poured 11m gallons (42m litres) of oil in to Alaska's Prince William Sound 21 years ago. The effects of the Deepwater Horizon blowout are far from reaching that size but if, as predicted, it takes up to three months to halt the flow of oil from 5,000 feet underwater then the scale of the disaster could be much larger....