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"Unprecedented Crisis:" Bird's Eye View of Gulf Oil Spill Fl Bound

May 6, 2010

PENSACOLA, Fla. - While workers prepare for the first of the oil from the BP rig spill to reach Florida's beaches later this week, Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum, and BP CFO Alex Sink flew above the slick to get a closer look. Steve Bousquet, Tallahassee bureau chief for the St. Petersburg Times, was there, and shares his thoughts on the aerial view of the Deepwater Horizon spill.

"It's really a horrifying thing to see because of the magnitude of it. They use these chemicals to break up the oil and it takes on a kind of rust-colored look to it. And we saw these long streaks, miles and miles long of oil, and just oil as far as the eye can see."

A University of Miami scientist says the spill has shrunk since last week, because some of the oil has gone underwater or been chemically disbursed. But, it still covers about 2,000 square miles, and another 200,000 gallons a day are being spilled. BP executives told Congress, if they can't get the leak under control, that number could grow to 2 million gallons each day.

BP says it will contribute $25 million to Florida to help with the cleanup and damages to businesses, but Bousquet says that might be just a fraction of the cost.

"When you get beyond the shock of seeing all that oil on the ocean, then McCollum, CFO Sink and the governor were all thinking about the potentially very very severe economic impact this could have on the state of Florida. We are so dependent on coastal tourism, fishing, Mom and Pop hotels on the beaches. It could be grave."

The pressure is on for Gov. Crist, he adds.

"Charlie Crist has to provide aid and comfort to people, but then he's got to deliver. He's got to be sure that people get economic resources, that they get access to bridge loans, that their concerns are taken care of. This crisis and how he handles it could be a fundamental test of the kind of leadership we can expect from Charlie Crist."

Gov. Crist called the spill "an unprecedented crisis."

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL