“ Obama officials keep eyes on spill ”

COVINGTON – Three top Obama administration officials are returning to the Gulf Coast to monitor the massive oil spill that seems to have no end in sight, as BP PLC officials said yesterday that one of their efforts to slow the leak wasn’t working as effectively as before. BP spokesman John Curry told The Associated Press yesterday that a mile-long tube inserted into the leaking well siphoned about 57 120 gallons of oil within the past 24 hours, a sharp drop from the 92 400 gallons of oil a day that the device was sucking up on Friday. However, the company has said the amount of oil siphoned will vary widely from day to day.Engineers are working furiously to stem the growing ooze as more wildlife and delicate coastal wetlands are tainted despite the oil-absorbing booms placed around shorelines to protect them. A pelican colony off Louisiana’s coast was awash in oil Saturday, and an Associated Press photographer saw several birds and their eggs coated in the ooze while nests rested in mangroves precariously close to the crude that had washed in. Workers had surrounded the island with the booms, but puddles of oil had seeped through the barrier.Anger with the government and BP, which leased the rig and is responsible for the clean-up, has boiled over as the spill spreads. United States Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa P. Jackson was headed yesterday to Louisiana, where she planned to visit with frustrated residents.Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano are to lead a Senate delegation to the region today to fly over affected areas and keep an eye on the response. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also told CBS’ Face The Nation yesterday that Justice Department officials had been to the region gathering information about the spill. However, he wouldn’t say whether the department had opened a criminal investigation. (AP)