Yahoo reports that U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar says those responsible for a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be held accountable. This follows President Obama's announcement Wednesday that the U.S. is putting a hold on the expansion of offshore drilling he suggested in a speech last month while the government investigates the spill, which occurred this week following the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20. The cause of the explosion remains unknown, though some sources such as FBR Capital speculate it could be due to failure of the blowout preventers due to mistakes in the cementing process. At the time Obama's speech, proponents of offshore drilling said the ruling didn't go far enough. Now, at least three key senators opposed to expanded offshore drilling-- Florida's Bill Nelson along with Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey--now are calling on Obama to drop the plan. Which means for the oil industry, this disaster couldn't have come at a worse time. The well is spewing up to 5,000 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf, and the oil has now reached the Louisiana coastline, with just the beginnings of its effects on seabirds being realized. Still, proponents of drilling feel the incident, while tragic, should not discourage further offshore exploration. In an interview with the National Journal, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said:

"I think what people need to be reminded is that for decades we have been drilling in the Gulf with very little incident, and this is a terrible tragedy and we need to get to the bottom of it and find out what happened and ensure that we don't get ourselves in a similar situation."
The long-term effects of this disaster are yet to be seen, both in the environment and U.S. energy policy. One thing's for sure though: we're all stuck in it. -Stephen Payne, Editor, Oil and Gas Investor This Week;;