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The BP oil spill is causing less damage to the state of Mississippi than the media, according to Gov. Haley Barbour.
"Well, the truth is, Chris, we have had virtually no oil," Barbour told Fox News' Chris Wallace Sunday.
"We have had a few tar balls but we have tar balls every year as a natural product of the Gulf of Mexico. Fifty thousand to 750,000 barrels of oil seep in the Gulf of Mexico through the floor every year. So tar balls are no big deal," said Barbour.
"The biggest negative impact for us has been the news coverage," the governor continued. "There has been no distinction between Grand Isle and Venice and the places in Louisiana that we feel so terrible for that have had oil washing up on them."
The massive oil spill gushing from a blown-out wellhead at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico has washed ashore on Alabama and Mississippi Tuesday and could wash ashore in Florida this weekend.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Tuesday that a two-mile long, three-feet wide strand of caramel-colored oil has been found on Petit Bois Island, a barrier island near the Mississippi-Alabama border.
The discovery means Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi have all been hit by oil.
The governor described the caramel-colored substance as "not a liquid, not a solid," but as an emulsified compound, similar to the gooey consistency of a Milk Dud, CBS News reports.
It came ashore in the form of a ribbon of oil measuring 1 yard wide by 2 miles long and was undetected by survey boats until it hit land because the ribbon stayed about 2 feet beneath the surface in open water, according to the governor
ScienceDaily (Jan. 27, 2000) — Twice an Exxon Valdez spill worth of oil seeps into the Gulf of Mexico every year, according to a new study that will be presented January 27 at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.
But the oil isn't destroying habitats or wiping out ocean life. The ooze is a natural phenomena that's been going on for many thousands of years
"On water, oil has this wonderful property of spreading out really thin," said Mitchell. "A gallon of oil can spread over a square mile very quickly." So what ends up on the surface is an incredibly thin slick, impossible to see with the human eye and harmless to marine animals.
When oil spreads out over water, surface tension causes it to act like a super-thin sheet of Saran Wrap, flattening down small waves on the ocean surface. To spot the oil slicks, EarthSat scientists use radar data from Canadian and European satellites. The oil slicks stand out in the radar image because they return less of the radar signal than the wavy surfaces.
"The number is twice the Exxon Valdez's spill per year, and that's a conservative estimate," said Mitchell.