I don't know if people understand the magnitude of this, but we are talking about no seafood from the Gulf (and the Gulf is responsible for 18-22% of the seafood consumption in the United States), ecological damage for years to come, economic disaster and very angry people in the Gulf Coast Region.
New oil flow estimates by scientists studying the blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico would make the leak the worst in the nation's history, far bigger than 11 million gallons that spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster.
U.S. Geological Survey Director Dr. Marcia McNutt said the results are preliminary, but that two teams using different methods determined the well that exploded April 20 and sank two days later has spilled between 17 and 39 million gallons.
Earlier, more conservative estimates put the amount of crude oil at 7 million gallons.
The USGS estimates are bad news for President Barack Obama's administration and BP, which have taken a public relations beating as a result of the spill.
BP is trying to stop the leak by flooding the well with mud and then capping it with cement, a procedure known as a "top kill."
Video of the spill site appeared to show mud, and not oil, flowing from the blown-out well, hours after BP started the operation.
"It wouldn’t be reasonable for anybody to draw a conclusion from that until we’ve killed the well for good," BP managing director Bob Dudley told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira.
"The operation continues," Dudley said, but it is "too early to draw conclusions from it."