U.S. environment chief to visit Gulf, spill spreads

VENICE, Louisiana (Reuters) - The top U.S. environmental official was to visit the Gulf Coast on Sunday as energy giant BP Plc scrambled to contain a widening oil spill.

VENICE, Louisiana (Reuters) - The U.S. government is forced to rely on BP and the private oil sector to try to plug the gushing Gulf of Mexico well because only they have the technical know-how to stop the spill at those depths, the Coast Guard chief said on Sunday.

Admiral Thad Allen, who heads the oil spill response operation, also said he trusted BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward at a time when U.S. government and public criticism of the company and its executives over the spill is mounting daily.