Oil from a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico oozed into Louisiana's ecologically rich wetlands Friday as storms threatened to frustrate desperate protection efforts. The White House put a hold on any new offshore oil projects until safeguards are in place to prevent rig explosions like the one that caused the spill.
Boats patrolled coastal marshes early Friday looking for areas where the oil has flowed in, the Coast Guard said, and the state of Louisiana diverted thousands of gallons of fresh water from the Mississippi River to try to flush out the wetlands, though that effort was being hampered by wind.
…President Barack Obama on Friday directed that no new offshore oil drilling leases be issued unless rigs have new safeguards. Obama ordered Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to report within 30 days on what new technologies are needed.
…The leak from a blown-out well a mile underwater is five times bigger than first believed. More than 200,000 gallons of oil a day are spewing from the site of the rig, which was operated by BP and owned by Transocean Ltd. It sank two days after the explosion.
…The oil slick could become the nation's worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening to eclipse even the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the Exxon Valdez, the grounded tanker that leaked 11 million gallons in Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989. The sheen measured about 70 miles by 130 miles as of Thursday, and officials expected to update that figure Friday.