Gulf Oil Leak and Safe Harbor

May 14 Update:

The ambitious Republican governors of Mississippi and Louisiana are a study in contrasts as an oil spill threatens coastal economies still reeling from Hurricane Katrina.

Mississippi's Haley Barbour, a well-connected former Washington lobbyist, has calmly said the oil slick looming offshore is just a sheen in most places and there's no reason for people to panic.

Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, meanwhile, has questioned oil giant BP PLC's response capability and the federal government's plans to clean up crude spewing from a well blown out by an offshore oil rig explosion April 20. He activated the Louisiana National Guard and called on coastal parish leaders to draw up their own response plans after saying he couldn't get answers from BP or the Coast Guard.

BP and government officials have pegged the leak resulting from the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster at 5,000 barrels a day, or about 200,000 gallons. But a scientist who analyzed the video of the gushing pipe said Thursday the oil flow appeared to be much greater.

Soon after the explosion three weeks ago, the government said oil and gas were flowing from the seabed at a rate of 210,000 gallons or 5,000 barrels a day. Now, after viewing the video, some scientists calculate it at 2 million gallons a day or even higher.National Public Radio reported yesterday that there could be 10 times as much oil coming out as the previous estimate of 5,000 barrels per day. Which raises some big questions about whether BP is being honest about the size of the spill.