[Updated at 9:07 p.m.] Here are the latest developments on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which unfolded after the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20:
- President Barack Obama vowed Tuesday to unleash whatever resources may be needed to contain oil and clean up from the biggest environmental disaster in the nation's history.
- Obama predicted that, "in the coming days and weeks," efforts to stop the leak "should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well." By later in the summer, a relief well is expected to stop the leak completely.
- BP's response: "We share the president's goal of shutting off the well as quickly as possible, cleaning up the oil and mitigating the impact on the people and environment of the Gulf Coast. We look forward to meeting with President Obama tomorrow (Wednesday) for a constructive discussion about how best to achieve these mutual goals."
- Oil containment efforts were suspended twice on Tuesday, the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command said on its website.
In the latest report, a faulty sensor led officials aboard the drill ship Discoverer Enterprise to halt collection of oil from the ruptured well into a containment vessel located a mile below, on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. Collection resumed after 30 minutes, the command said on its website.
Officials had reported earlier in the day that a nearly five-hour suspension of oil-containment efforts occurred after a lightning strike started a fire aboard the ship. The containment resumed at 2:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m. ET), the website said.
- Former Justice Department Inspector General Michael R. Bromwich has been appointed by President Obama to lead changes to the Minerals Management Service as the agency is restructured.
- Government officials Tuesday increased the estimate of oil flowing into the Gulf to between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels (1.5 million to 2.5 million) per day, up to 50 percent more than previously estimated.
- Seafood from the Gulf available to consumers in stores and restaurants is safe, a Food and Drug Administration official told a Senate committee Tuesday.
- Congressional Republicans accused President Barack Obama and his allies in Congress Tuesday of "exploiting" the disaster to push for their comprehensive energy legislation. GOP leaders argue the Democrats' proposals would have a devastating impact on the struggling U.S. economy.
- Health threats from the Gulf oil disaster could last for years, and officials lack knowledge on how long chemicals in the spilled oil and dispersants will remain toxic, a health expert told a Senate committee Tuesday.
- BP said a fire aboard a drill ship Tuesday caused the company to suspend its oil-siphoning operation from a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Federal authorities announced guidelines Tuesday to speed up maritime waivers that would allow more foreign ships - in addition to the 15 already in the Gulf of Mexico - to assist in oil cleanup efforts.
"Should any waivers be needed, we are prepared to process them as quickly as possible to allow vital spill response activities being undertaken by foreign-flagged vessels to continue without delay," said Adm. Thad Allen, the government's response manager.
- President Barack Obama said Tuesday that oil gushing into the Gulf was "an unprecedented environmental disaster" that will be met with an "unprecedented response."
- Lawmakers attacked the heads of oil companies during hearings Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, said during a key House
subcommittee hearingÂ that four of the five largest oil companies have produced disaster response plans that discuss how to protect walruses, even though there are no walruses in the Gulf. These are "cookie-cutter plans" that, in reality, are little more than "just paper exercises," he said.
- Rep. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, ripped the heads of ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and Shell Oil at the start of the hearing for
producing disaster response plans that are "virtually identical." They all tout "ineffective identical equipment" and often use "the exact same words" in their plans, he said. They have spent "zero time and money" in developing adequate response blueprints, he asserted.
- BP has accelerated payments in the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, approving 337 checks for $16 million to businesses that have filed claims in excess of $5,000, the company said Tuesday.
- President Barack Obama will continue his Gulf Coast visit Tuesday with a stop in Florida's Panhandle, where beaches have started to see
signs of oil as crude continues to gush from a ruptured deepwater well. Obama, on his fourth trip to the region since oil began spewing from the well in April, is scheduled to return to Washington later Tuesday and address the nation about the situation from the Oval Office.
- Obama will give a speech of support for oil-impacted communities and American troops while at Pensacola's Naval Air Station Tuesday
morning, an administration official said.
- Rep. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, will have a chance to grill executives from five major oil companies on Capitol Hill. The witness list for Tuesday's hearing of his House Energy and Environment subcommittee includes chief executives of BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell Oil. Markey, a longtime opponent of offshore drilling and vocal critic of BP's response to the oil disaster, told CNN that the purpose of the hearing is to "establish whether or not BP is the rule or the exception" in terms of its ability to respond to a massive oil spill.
- BP officials have turned to a new source for help with their oil cleanup efforts: actor Kevin Costner. The oil giant announced Monday that it had ordered 32 machines from Costner's company, the actor told AC360 in an exclusive interview.
- BP reported that a cap over the subsea gusher collected 7,620 barrels of oil (320,000 gallons) from midnight to noon Monday. Federal researchers estimate the well has spewed between 20,000 and 40,000 barrels (840,000 to 1.7 milllion gallons) of crude into the Gulf every day for weeks.
- BP expects to be able to contain 50,000 barrels (2.1 million gallons) of the now-gushing oil per day by the end of June - two weeks earlier than previously thought, according to White House spokesman Bill Burton.
- The State Department said Monday that 17 foreign countries and four international bodies have offered equipment, expertise and other assistance to respond to the Gulf oil disaster. Offers accepted so far include two skimmers and 13,780 feet of boom from Mexico, eight skimming systems from Norway, three sets of surface-oil clearing systems from the Netherlands, and 9,843 feet of containment boom from Canada.
- Coast Guard, wildlife, environmental and BP officials will host three open houses Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Louisiana. The open houses will give residents the opportunity to talk to experts about the techniques, strategies and materials being used in the response.
- President Barack Obama said Monday that preliminary talks have started with BP executives to try to reach an agreement at his meeting Wednesday with top company officials on how to ensure that damage claims from the Gulf disaster are processed quickly and fairly.
- A White House spokesman said Monday that the administration is confident that it has the legal authority to force BP to set up an escrow account for the purpose of paying damages.
- President Barack Obama, on his fourth trip to the affected region since the disaster began, said Monday that the "full
- resources of the federal government are being mobilized to confront" the spill and its impact on the Gulf Coast.
- Obama's trip is slated to continue in Pensacola, Florida, on Tuesday where he "will deliver a message of support to Pensacola and (Florida) Panhandle communities affected by the spill, and a message of support to troops in time of war," an administration official said Monday.
- The president is also scheduled to deliver an address to the nation Tuesday night.
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, along with most other Senate Democrats, sent a letter to embattled BP chief Tony Hayward on Monday, urging the company to set aside $20 billion for the purposes of covering both economic damages and Gulf cleanup costs.
- Obama announced the remaining five members of a commission he appointed to investigate the spill. They include: Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences; Terry Garcia, executive vice president for mission programs for the National Geographic
- Society; Cherry Murray, dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and Frances Ulmer, chancellor of the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
- A new national poll indicates that most Americans don't think Obama has been tough enough on BP.
- A letter released Monday to Hayward from House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-California,
- says a congressional investigation indicates BP took a low-cost, speedy approach to drilling the broken deepwater well responsible for the spill.
- Hayward is expected to testify before Waxman's committee Thursday.