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The Obama administration is pressing British Petroleum to do more in response to a worsening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that is threatening fragile and ecologically diverse coastal areas.
The oil, which has already reached the southeastern state of Louisiana, is projected to reach Mississippi on Saturday, Alabama on Sunday and Florida on Monday.
The head of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, says the government will continue to urge BP, which owns the leaking well, to deploy additional assets to help lead the response. Napolitano and other top administration officials met Friday in Louisiana with local authorities and took an aerial tour of the affected region.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency. He has urged the federal government and BP to deploy more resources, saying that the booms that are being used are not effective in containing the major oil spill.
The oil, which is leaking from a well in the Gulf of Mexico, is threatening devastating impacts on the birds, fish, shrimp and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast, as well as the livelihoods of fishermen, shrimpers and those in the tourist industry.
President Barack Obama told reporters Friday that domestic oil production is an important part of the overall U.S. security strategy, but it must be done responsibly and any new drilling leases must have safeguards to protect against accidents.
The president recently lifted a moratorium on new offshore drilling to increase domestic oil supplies.
Meteorologists say winds have been constant for several days, pushing the slick from the site of the damaged Horizon Deepwater oil rig, which exploded and sank a week ago.
Government officials say they are determined to discover what caused the explosion. The blast injured several workers, leaving 11 others missing and feared dead.
Experts say the damaged well is leaking nearly 795,000 liters of crude oil every day.