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Today—three long weeks into an oil spill that threatens ecological and economic disaster in the Gulf of Mexico—federal officials probing the accident seemed both angry and incredulous at what they were being told, The New York Times reports.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said at his committee's hearing on the accident:

<Update: Environmental groups are hopeful that public outrage over the Gulf oil spill strengthens a green movement towards more sustainable living.>

Public opinion is sharply reflecting three weeks of un-staunched oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Less than half of Americans now support offshore oil drilling—a huge drop from the days of "drill, baby, drill"—according to a new CBS poll.

Polling indicates a swing from 64 percent favorable to offshore drilling to only 46 percent now. Forty-one percent of those polled say the costs and risks of drilling are too great. Previously, only 28 percent held that position.

The three companies responsible for the spill in the Gulf of Mexico—British Petroleum, Transocean and Halliburton—appeared in the second panel of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. They'll also appear this afternoon before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, making it a long day under the congressional microscope for these companies.

The first panel of witnesses were effusive in their answers as the majority of questions targeted Minerals Management Service representative Elmer Danenberger. Although Danenberger retired in January after 38 years at MMS, he faced strong questions from senators asking why MMS seemed so inept on the permit that resulted in the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Was it appropriate that MMS is both advocate and regulator of the oil and gas industry? Danenberger replied: "That concept might merit further attention."

Many senators seemed unhappy with the responses from the first panel, and made their disdain known. Sen. James E. Risch (R-ID) took the opportunity to toss a jibe at those organizing the first Earth Day, blaming them for stopping development of nuclear power and thus increasing our reliance on fossil fuels, but he did note that he was "less than satisfied" with the answers he recieved.

On a separate note, Interior Sec. Ken Salazar will announce today plans to split MMS into two parts, as reported by the Washington Post: one with oversight responsibilities for the oil indsutry and another that would provide drilling leases and collect federal royalties on the operations. The move could address what some senators questioned as MMS' relationship as both advocate and regulator.

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