Obama on 4th Gulf trip; Crude coats La. marsh

GULFPORT, Miss. Monday, which is Day 56 since BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and oil began gushing into the Gulf, the president arrived in Mississippi. From there, Obama is scheduled to travel through the coastline and visit Alabama and then Florida.

The president's first three trips to the Gulf took him to the Louisiana, where its famous Barataria Bay has become the latest casualty of the oil disaster.

Barataria Bay, a huge expanse of water, marsh, sand dunes and islands along Louisiana's coast, is filled with oil-caked birds, stranded turtles and oil-coated crabs. Globs of slimy brown crude and mats of tar can be found on the beaches and the mangroves that dot the bay.

Latest developments:

  • Six days before the oil rig exploded, a BP engineer called the rig a "nightmare well" that had caused the company problems in the past. The e-mail by engineer Brian Morel was among dozens of internal documents released Monday in Washington by the /*House Energy and Commerce Committee*/. The committee said BP made a series of questionable decisions before the explosion that "posed a trade-off between cost and well safety."
  • BP released a statement saying its costs for responding to the spill has gone up to $1.6 billion. This dollar figure includes $25 million in grants to Florida, Alabama and Mississippi and $60 million for funds specifically aimed at building barrier islands off the Louisiana coast.
  • BP is currently capturing approximately 630,000 gallons of oil a day, but hundreds of thousands of gallons are still escaping into the Gulf. BP is using undersea sensors to track how much gushing oil is seeping into the Gulf, and the company also said they're siphoning an extra 400,000 gallons of oil daily by continuing to burn off oil.
  • The White House said that BP appears to be willing to set up an independent victims' compensation fund upon demands from the president. White House officials said that Obama was prepared to force BP, if necessary, to set up the fund.
  • A second storage tank believed to be from the oil rig explosion has washed ashore in the Florida Panhandle. The shiny metal tank with a white placard reading "Horiz" was found intact over the weekend and didn't appear to be leaking oil.
  • The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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