NEW ORLEANS - At the same time they are venting their fury on BP over the Gulf of Mexico spill and its effects on the environment, effects, Louisiana politicians are rushing to the defense of the oil-and-gas industry and pleading with Washington to bring back offshore drilling - now.

State officials say the Obama administration's temporary ban on drilling in the Gulf has sent Louisiana's most lucrative industry into a death spiral.

They contend that drilling is safe overall and that the moratorium is a knee-jerk reaction. And the moratorium comes when another major Louisiana industry - fishing - has been brought to a standstill by the mess in the Gulf.

Meanwhile, a government task force of scientists said that before BP cut and capped the blown-out well at the bottom of the sea a week ago, it was spewing 2.1 million gallons of oil per day - or twice as much as the government's previous worst-case estimate.