Sarah Palin has fuelled growing anti-British sentiment over the Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster by saying "foreign" oil companies like BP were not to be trusted.
Nick Allen in Louisiana Published: 5:37PM BST 06 May 2010
Visitors fear that oil may wash up on their holiday beaches Photo: AP
The former Alaska governor and potential 2012 presidential candidate attacked the British oil giant over the recent Deepwater Horizon spill and a previous one in her state in 2006.
Her comments came despite the fact her husband Todd Palin worked for BP for 18 years, as a production supervisor, and only left the company last year to spend more time with his family.
Mrs Palin urged those in the Gulf of Mexico to "learn from Alaska's lesson with foreign oil companies." She added: "Don't naively trust – verify." As an oil slick the size of Luxembourg loomed off the US coast her intervention added to growing anger at BP among environmentalists and those who face losing their livelihoods.
Kristina Johnson, of the Sierra Club, America's largest grassroots environmental group, said: "They're the ones who have profited from oil and from our oceans. They're the ones who put the Gulf Coast at risk so that they could rake in record profits."
Captain Damon McKnight, a fishing boat captain in Venice, Louisiana, said: "If I was to go and cause a problem I would be expected to clean it up. My biggest beef is BP is really falling behind in the clean up process.
"There's all this oil out there and virtually nobody cleaning it. It's not getting done."
A 100-ton "containment dome" has arrived at the spot where the Deepwater Horizon rig sank 50 miles (80km) off the Louisiana coast on April 22.
BP hopes that by lowering the 40ft high concrete and steel contraption over the leaks, nearly a mile down, it will be able to capture 200,000 gallons of oil a day which is spewing out. The tactic has never been tried before at such a depth.
Mrs Palin, who promoted the slogan "Drill, baby, drill," said she continues to support offshore drilling but the US should not rely on foreign countries for oil.
In 2006, shortly before she became governor, a BP pipeline in Alaska spilt 200,000 gallons of oil at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
Investigators blamed the spill on corrosion and BP was eventually ordered to pay $20 million (£12 million) in fines and restitution.
Months before the Deepwater Horizon spill two congressmen raised concerns about BP's operations in Alaska. They said there had been four "significant" incidents in two years and warned proposed budget cuts might compromise safety.