It Has Begun…

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Dr. Erica Miller, right, and Danene Birtell with Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research cleaned oil from a Northern Gannet bird in Fort Jackson, La., on Friday.

By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON and LIZ ROBBINS for the NY Times    

NEW ORLEANS — Federal and state officials criticized BP on Friday for what they said was an inadequate response to the growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico stemming from an explosion on a drilling rig last week. They urged the oil company to do more to stop the leaking well 50 miles offshore as crude oil washed onto the fragile marshes of the Gulf Coast.

“We continue to urge BP to leverage additional assets to help lead the response in this effort, because it is clear after several unsuccessful attempts to secure the source of the leak, it is time for BP to supplement their current mobilization,” Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security said at an afternoon news conference in Louisiana.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Sparks New US Drilling Ban

White House adviser tells ABC all new drilling is on hold

BBC News – The US administration has banned oil drilling in new areas of the US coast while the cause of the oil spill off Louisiana is investigated. White House adviser David Axelrod told ABC TV it wanted to know exactly what led to last week’s explosion on the BP-operated rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency on Friday, and he wasn’t talking about his election campaign…

Heavy Winds & High Tides Hamper Gulf Oil imageFight

By CAIN BURDEAU Associated Press

MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER — Heavy winds and high tides complicated efforts to hold back oil that threatened to coat birds and other marine life as it oozed ashore from the Gulf of Mexico on Friday. The White House responded to the massive spill by halting any new offshore oil projects until safeguards are in place to prevent rig explosions like the one that caused it.

The National Weather Service predicted winds, high tides and waves through Sunday that could push oil deep into the inlets, ponds and lakes of southeastern Louisiana. Seas of 6 to 7 feet were pushing tides several feet above normal toward the coast, and the wind was pushing oily water over the booms meant to contain it.

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Oil Spill Hits Gulf Coast Habitats

Craig Guillot for National Geographic News

The elegant yet fragile brown pelican—removed from the U.S. endangered species list just last year—is the animal that conservationists fear may come to symbolize the damage to wildlife as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill advances over its marshy habitat.

In nesting season, the birds lie in the direct path of what officials fear may become one of the biggest oil spills in the nation’s history.

"The brown pelican was just pulled off the endangered species list, and they are sitting on nest in the barrier islands … the first point of contact for oil,"  –Melanie Driscoll, director of bird conservation for the Louisiana Coastal Initiative of the National Audubon Society.

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image National Ocean Service from Facebook

Via National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): The Joint Information Center on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has set up toll-free phone numbers for oil-related information. To report oiled or injured wildlife resulting from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, call 800-557-1401. To report oil on land, or for general community and volunteer information, call 866-448-5816.

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