Special Reports

Gulf state governors to discuss oil spill disaster response

Governors of the coastal states battling the effects of thousands of gallons of oil seeping in the Gulf of Mexico will meet Tuesday in Mobile, Ala., to continue discussing disaster response plans.

Gov. Charlie Crist stopped at an emergency operations center in Florida's Panhandle early Tuesday and is to fly over the oil spill before continuing to Mobile to meet with others involved in the crisis.

During the visit to the operations center in Pensacola, Crist was briefed on operations and heard county and city officials talk about bureaucratic bottlenecks: They are frantically awaiting Coast Guard approval of their local cleanup plan to deploy people and equipment.

Maps of the spill's trajectory and anticipated ocean currents point to the possibility that oil could flow into Pensacola Bay, making Thursday a key day for Pensacola.

Crist spoke of the need for good preparations to cope with what he called an "unprecedented crisis" in Florida.

Crist's environmental chief, Mike Sole, said every major decision on the cleanup is being made at the Unified Command Center in Mobile, Ala., where the governor will visit later Tuesday.

BP will contribute $25 million to Florida to defray cleanup costs, but Florida emergency management chief Dave Halstead said: "That will just be the tip of the iceberg if they can't cap that well."

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