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Oil Spill Sparks U.S. Drilling Ban

The oil slick, outlined in white, off the Louisiana coast in a Terra satellite image taken on April 29.
The U.S. administration has banned oil drilling in new areas of the U.S. coast while the cause of a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is investigated.

But President Barack Obama vowed not to walk away from plans for more drilling.

"I continue to believe that domestic oil production is an important part of our overall strategy for energy security, but I've always said it must be done responsibly, for the safety of our workers and our environment," Obama said.

As many as 5,000 barrels of oil a day are thought to be spilling into the water following an offshore drilling rig explosion last week.

Obama said he had tasked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar with a 30-day review to say "what, if any, additional precautions and technologies should be required" to prevent future calamities.

Amid calls from the U.S. Congress to freeze any further exploration, the president said he had directed officials to inspect all deep-water oil rigs and platforms for possible safety issues.

He also said some 1,900 federal emergency response personnel, 300 vessels and aircraft were on hand, and authorities had deployed around 70,000 meters of protective boom to contain the slick "and there are more on the way."

The slick has begun to reach the Louisiana shore, while Florida declared a state of emergency.

The oil spill is raising fears of severe damage to fisheries, wildlife refuges, and beaches in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

compiled from agency reports