BP Downplays New Higher Estimate of Oil Spill

Obama Administration Promises BP Will Expedite Claims

On Thursday, the Obama administration said that BP has agreed to speed up claims, but there's still no promise to ease the paperwork or change the payouts. Right now, payments are structured based on what people made over the last three years, already tough times for people in the region because of fallout from Katrina.

With the fishing industry paralyzed, there's also fear that Washington's decisions will paralyze another business crucial to the region's economic health -- the oil industry. While many locals are angry with BP, the Gulf Coast remains dependent on oil jobs, many of which could disappear amid the Obama administration's moratorium on deep water drilling.

"Every one of these 33 deep water wells employs, directly, hundreds of people and indirectly thousands," Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., told ABC News' "Good Morning America" today.

The fear is that stopping drilling too long could bring the region's already-battered economy to a halt.

"What I said to the White House is we didn't mind them stopping it -- we said, 'Don't stop it longer than needed," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, said today. "I don't have any problem with them saying we have to take a pause."

Onboard a Coast Guard flight Thursday out to the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig accident that precipitated the oil leak, ABC News observed miles of brown, oily stripes on the ocean surface that are moving toward shore.

All that oil is having a disastrous effect on Gulf wildlife. More animals now are being brought into rescue centers than ever before. At a Fort Jackson wildlife refuge, twice as many dead birds were brought in today as Wednesday.

ABC News' Huma Khan, David Muir, Bradley Blackburn, Dan Arnall, Matt Gutman, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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