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PENSACOLA, Fla., May 4 (Reuters) - Florida Governor Charlie Crist said on Tuesday it was possible that his state could sue BP Plc (BP.L) over any damage Florida might suffer from a huge oil spill flowing from a ruptured BP-owned well in the Gulf of Mexico.
Such a lawsuit “is certainly in the realm of possibility,” Crist told reporters in Pensacola Beach on the Florida Panhandle, one of the U.S. Gulf Coast regions threatened by a massive oil slick caused by the spill.
Crist made the comments before taking a flight over the slick and attending a meeting in Mobile, Alabama, with state and federal leaders coordinating the response to the spill.
London-based BP has said it is releasing $25 million each in block grants to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida to jump-start clean-up projects.
Crist said local communities on the Florida Panhandle coast should press ahead with preparations to protect their shoreline from oil contamination, even though it was not clear exactly when and to what extent the drifting slick would impact there.
“It’s important to lean forward,” Crist said. “It’s OK to protect Florida.”
Attorneys-general from five U.S. Gulf states including Florida met on Sunday and said they would draft letters to President Barack Obama and to BP, seeking the swiftest possible delivery of federal aid and compensation to those affected.
The officials said they wanted clarification from BP on the firm’s commitment to cover the cost of the cleanup and paying legitimate compensation to those affected. (Reporting by Michael Peltier; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Eric Beech)