The economic impact of the continuing oil spill in the Gulf is growing at a rapid pace.
Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expanded a ban on fishing to cover 45,728 square miles. An area larger than the state of Pennsylvania, that figure covers 19 percent of the Gulf that the United States government has jurisdiction over, up from a ban of 10 percent of the area on Monday and eight percent on Friday.
The ban now stretches from the coast of Louisiana, near where the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank on April 20, all the way to the coast of Florida.
In Florida experts are concerned the oil may reach The Loop Current as soon as Sunday, which would carry it to the Florida Keys and up the Atlantic coast in the Gulf Stream current. Twenty tar balls were found by the Coast Guard near Key West, and experts are in the process of testing them to discover if they are related to the oil spill.
It's too early to estimate what the final economic impact will be in the Gulf. In the Senate, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey has introduced a bill to raise the economic liability for the oil companies responsible from $75 million to $10 billion, though Republicans are blocking it.
That would not include the costs of cleanup, which BP has committed to paying. The total clean-up cost so far? $625 million and counting.