Oil Spill Reaches La. Coast, Threatens Ecosystem

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The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is making landfall in Louisiana. Thousands of barrels of oil are seeping into the water every day and that is threatening wildlife, as well as the livelihood of many people on the Gulf Coast.

Some experts are saying this incident could become even worse than the infamous Exxon Valdez spill on Alaska in 1989.

The oil spilling from the sunken rig is leaking faster than it can be cleaned up. Government officials believe about 5,000 barrels a day are contaminating the Gulf.

"It's very difficult under these circumstances to have any precise estimate," said Jane Lubchenko, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrator.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., has declared a state of emergency, requesting help from the federal government.

The U.S. Navy has already sent in miles of booms and skimmers and the U.S. Coast Guard tried to stop the oil from coming ashore by setting it on fire.

But the weather has not been cooperating.

"It's hard for them with these conditions," said Doug Suttle, chief operating officer for BP.

The spill now threatens the region's ecosystem, containing more than 400 species of wildlife.

"If they lose their habitat they can't spawn they can't eat and even more importantly things that may survive may not be commercially available so you may be able to catch them but not eat them," said Mark Davis, environmental expert at Tulane University.

And that threatens the businesses of shrimpers and fisherman, as well as local restaurateurs.

"The price of seafood will increase, therefore, we have to raise menu prices, or possibly not even have it on our menu," said restaurant owner Ernest Ulrich.

"This is the last thing we need, for this to shut us down at all," said charter fisherman Ed Lively. "I mean, it just would not be good for the business or us, whatsoever."

The Obama administration has launched a full investigation into the cause of last week's oil rig explosion.

"While BP is ultimately responsible for funding the cost of response and cleanup operations, my administration will continue to use every single available resource at our disposal, including potentially the Department of Defense," President Barack Obama said.

The White House is closely monitoring the situation. Obama ordered the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretaries of Interior and Homeland Security to visit the site to determine the best response and inch closer to what caused the spill in the first place.

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