As oil drifts closer to the Florida coast, BP and the federal government said today that their seventh attempt to contain the leak in the Gulf of Mexico had hit a snag, leaving crude gushing into the ocean faster than ever before.
The diamond-studded saw making a second cut into the pipe on the ocean floor was stuck for much of the day, though undersea robots were able to free it late this afternoon. The giant saw will be hauled to the surface for inspection.
"Anybody that's ever used a saw knows that every once in a while, it'll bind up," Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said at a press conference.
Officials said they hoped they could complete the cut late in the evening. Once the cut is finished, they will lower a containment dome over the pipe to start siphoning the oil to tankers on the surface, but that process could take several more days.
A squad of 18 undersea robots is working to complete the job. Each robot weighs 6,000 pounds and costs $6 million, and precision is important -- the neater the cut, the less oil will seep out from the sides once a containment dome is in place.
In the meantime, the oil poured out at an estimated rate of 800,000 gallons per day, 20 percent faster than before BP started its latest strategy.
The oil, which has already polluted 125 miles of the Louisiana coast, now appears to be moving further eastward. Oil has been sighted for the first time on barrier islands in Mississippi and Alabama, and Florida's governor said it's headed his way.
"Unfortunately, we're beginning to see some of this oil, the leading edge of this oil, head towards Florida," said Gov. Charlie Christ, who called on the federal government to extend emergency unemployment pay for Florida's commercial fishermen.
In Washington, President Obama argued today that the Gulf oil spill is reason to roll back billions of dollars in tax breaks for oil companies and use the money to support clean energy development.
"We have to acknowledge that there are inherent risks to drilling four miles beneath the surface of the earth," said Obama, who was arguing for more offshore drilling just months ago.
Today, he said that offshore drilling will still be necessary but it should be "used as a short-term solution while we transition to a clean energy economy."
Along the Gulf Coast, outrage is mounting over the spill, and much of it is aimed at BP CEO Tony Hayward, who today apologized for a statement many believed was insensitive.
As reported on "World News" Tuesday night, Hayward said over the weekend that he was eager for the spill to be over because "I want my life back."
Today, Hayward backtracked, writing in a Facebook post that he was "appalled" at his own comment.
"I apologize, especially to the families of the 11 men who lost their lives in this tragic accident. Those words don't represent how I feel about this tragedy," Hayward wrote.
But residents of the Gulf Coast aren't satisfied with BP's answers and explanations, and they wrote to "World News" yesterday to share their frustrations.
11-year-old Skyler Kimbrough from Mississippi wrote with her concern about hiring out-of-work fishermen.
"This is OUR coast," she wrote. "We need to give them the first shot at helping."