"Two new scientific reports on Tuesday raised fresh fears about the environmental fallout from the world's worst offshore oil spill and questioned government assurances that most of the oil from the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico was already gone.
"The Obama administration on Wednesday delivered an upbeat verdict on the fate of the estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil that spewed out of BP's blown out well in the Gulf of Mexico, saying that most of it has either been dispersed, burned off, skimmed up, directly recaptured through containment efforts, evaporated or dissolved.
"The government is expected to announce on Wednesday that three-quarters of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon leak has already evaporated, dispersed, been captured or otherwise eliminated — and that much of the rest is so diluted that it does not seem to pose much additional risk of harm.
"NEW ORLEANS — Officials in charge of the oil spill response in the gulf region say they are beginning to shift their efforts to a new phase, focusing more on long-term recovery now that some of the urgent demands of the spill are diminishing.
"Now that the oil on the surface appears to be dissipating, the notion of a recovery from the spill, repeated by politicians, strikes some here as short-sighted. The gulf had been suffering for decades before the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20."