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Latest developments on the Gulf oil disaster

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- 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:

NEW

Frustrated advocacy group to hold nationwide vigils Tuesday night

President Barack Obama delivers strong defense of his administration's response to the spill stating he has held meetings with experts and has learned "whose ass to kick."

The president is also endorsing plans to lift the cap on damages that oil companies must pay for a spill, currently set at $75

million.

Gulf oil disaster will be felt for years, said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen. "Long-term issues of restoring the environment and the habitats and stuff will be years," Allen said

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED

CLEANUP

Workers in Louisiana have built about 2 miles of sand berms along the state's coast, Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

BP Managing Director Bob Dudley said the company has agreed to pay $360 million toward the berm project, which is aimed at raising walls of sand along Louisiana barrier islands to catch the oncoming slick.

BP says that it has closed one of four valves on the top of the cap and that the process is working well. The company says it may not close all four of the valves because engineers think the valves may be releasing more gas than oil.

Federal authorities reopened about 340 square miles of federal waters off the Florida Panhandle east of Destin to fishing Monday after finding no sign of oil in that area, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration announced.

The federal government has accepted Canada's offer of 3,000 meters -- or more than 9,800 feet -- of ocean boom to help combat the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, a State Department spokesman said Monday. The boom is expected to arrive in the Gulf on Tuesday.

The total amount of crude being collected from the ruptured undersea well responsible for the Gulf oil disaster increased Sunday to roughly 466,000 gallons, or 11,100 barrels, according to estimates from BP and Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's response manager for the spill. On Saturday, BP indicated that it had increased the amount of crude being funneled to the surface to roughly 441,000 gallons.

Since the containment cap was installed Friday, the total number of gallons of oil being captured on a daily basis has nearly doubled, Allen said at the White House on Monday.

BP "anticipates moving another craft" to the well site shortly in order to raise the capacity of oil that could be captured on a daily basis to roughly 840,000 gallons, or 20,000 barrels, Allen said.

Allen said BP has made progress but cautioned that it was too early to call efforts a success. "We're making the right progress. I don't think anyone should be pleased as long as there's oil in the water," he said.

BP had increased the amount of oil it funneled to the surface to about 441,000 gallons on Saturday, the company said Sunday. This was an increase from about 250,000 gallons on Friday.

In advance of approaching oil, Florida has about 250,000 feet of boom spread around the Panhandle and has another 250,000 feet available, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said that barely any oil had appeared on the state's shores but that its tourist industry was nonetheless feeling the pinch because of "misperceptions."

POLITICS

Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, asked that the moratorium on deepwater drilling be lifted early.

Allen briefed President Obama and the Cabinet on Monday on the administration's ongoing response to the incident.

Obama plans to personally offer his condolences to families who lost loved ones in the rig explosion, said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. The president has invited the families of the 11 dead workers to the White House on Thursday.

The widows of two men killed aboard the offshore drill rig that sank in April, ripping open the undersea gusher, told members of Congress that more needs to be done to keep oil companies from putting profits ahead of safety.