May 27th, 2010
12:53 PM ET

Obama addresses Gulf oil spill disaster

[Updated at 1:57 p.m.] The president answers the last question from the media and ends the news conference.

[Updated at 1:56 p.m.] Obama says anyone looking for someone to take responsibility can look to him because it's his job to end the crisis. He said the situation "forces us all to do some soul-searching, and I think that's important for all of us to do."

[Updated at 1:51 p.m.] Asked about Interior Secretary Ken Salazar saying the administration had its "boot" on BP's "neck," Obama responded that Salazar is "frustrated, angry and emotional," but that it's important to focus on actions not anger.

[Updated at 1:44 p.m.] "It's problem if we don't start changing how we operate," Obama says, emphasizing the need for diverse sources of energy and explaining how he approached the GOP caucus and said, "Let's work together" on a bipartisan framework for addressing the nation's energy needs.

[Updated at 1:40 p.m.] "We have to verify whatever they say about the damage," Obama says, adding that the government has fallen short in checking out BP's information on the extent of the catastrophe.

[Updated at 1:38 p.m.] Asked if he regretted calling for expanded offshore drilling as part of the nation's energy strategy, Obama says he made the mistake of believing that oil companies "had their act together" when it came to assessing worst-case scenarios.

[Updated at 1:37 p.m.] Despite the oil spill, Obama says he continues to believe that "domestic oil production is an important part of our overall energy mix," but it is insufficient to meet the nation's future needs on its own.

[Updated at 1:33 p.m.] Prior to the oil spill, "there was lack of anticipating" what the worst-case scenarios could be, the president says, and "that's a problem."

[Updated at 1:31 p.m.] The president says he takes some responsibility for not moving quickly enough to change a culture at the Minerals Management Service in which "oil companies were able to get what they wanted." He added, "We should've busted through those constraints."

[Updated at 1:28 p.m.] Obama says he learned of Minerals Management Service Director Elizabeth Birnbaum's resignation today.

[Updated at 1:26 p.m.] Prior to the Obama administration, there was a "habit" of signing off on environmental waivers because the Minerals Management Service couldn't complete the necessary studies within the allotted 30 days, the president says.

[Updated at 1:23 p.m.] Obama will "leave it" to the media to compare his oil spill response to former President George W. Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina: "I'm confident that people [will say] this administration was on top of what was an unprecedented crisis."

[Updated at 1:22 p.m.] The president asserts that if "BP's contractors are not moving as nimbly or effectively as they need to be, then it is already the power of the federal government to redirect those resources."

[Updated at 1:20 p.m.] Obama says, "This is a big mess coming to shore," and even with a perfect organizational structure, "spots are going to be missed."

[Updated at 1: 18 p.m.] BP has emergency contracts on hand in the event of an oil spill, Obama says, and "their job is to activate those and start paying them."

[Updated 1:15 p.m.] The federal government does not have "superior" technology, compared to that of BP, to help cap the broken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, the president says.

[Updated 1:13 p.m.] Obama says the federal government has been involved in decision-making since Day One of the crisis: "This notion that somehow the federal government is sitting on the sideline for the last three or four or five weeks, we've just been letting BP make a whole bunch of decisions, is simply not true."

[Updated at 1:10 p.m.] "Those who think we were slow" in responding to the Gulf oil spill "don't know the facts," the president says.

[Updated at 1:08 p.m.] The president says the oil spill is a reminder of the need to push for comprehensive energy reform legislation.

[Updated at 1:06 p.m.] The crisis has been "the highest priority" since it began, and Obama says he has had more meetings about the spill than any other matter besides the Afghan troop buildup.

[Updated at 1:03 p.m.] Every day the oil spill dilemma continues, Obama says, "I'm angry and frustrated as well."

[Updated at 1:02 p.m.] Obama lists four actions the administration is taking: suspending exploration in two sites off Alaska, canceling plans for leases off the coast of Virginia and in the Gulf of Mexico, suspending permits for new deep-water wells in the Gulf for six months and suspending  33 current projects in the Gulf.

[Updated at 12:59 p.m.] Obama says oil industry's "cozy and sometimes corrupt" relationship with government officials resulted in inadequate regulations.

[Updated at 12:57 p.m.] White House has insisted that BP pay injury claims, Obama says, adding that the U.S. is "not going to abandon our fellow citizens."

[Updated at 12:56 p.m.] President says about 20,000 people are working on the cleanup effort.

[Updated at 12:55 p.m.] Obama, speaking at a White House news conference, says BP is operating under government supervision and must consult administration before undertaking any measures.

[Posted at 12:53 p.m.] Top-kill method for cleaning up oil spill offers "no guarantee of success" and cleanup process could take months, President Obama says.

soundoff (451 Responses)
  1. dave

    Where to begin, where to begin. I am shocked at all the negativity and blame Obama is getting for the BP oil spill. Did everyone lose their lack of critical thinking skills?? Everybody has the right to an opinion, but to base it on pure emotions and make delusional and irrational comments is sickening. Obama is one man trying to lead and help pull our nation out from the mess WE all created. When he states he and his teams have been focusing on the oil spill since day one that is true. You think he would just let this type of catastrophe just fall by the wayside??? When he speaks about his 'team' he is speaking about the experts specifically in this field. Not his 'finance team' or his 'immigration team'. The information that BP gave was incorrect and inaccurate about how much oil was spilling out. Obama admits the information should have been cross checked to better assist in overseeing BP's handling of the spill.

    Hindsight is 20/20 and to blame Obama for everything under the sun is completely unfair. I am sure these same finger pointers are the same people who will write on CNN preaching "less government" and now writing Obama and his administration should have done more . Hypocrites. Take off your blinders. I would like to see how YOU could handle this better. If you think you can, then stop blogging here on CNN. Go run for a position in your city or local government and try to make a difference instead of spreading your ignorance. OUT.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus68

      Dave, did you use this same train of thought when everyone was blaming Bush? What comes around, goes around...

      May 27, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Dave.......are your poor little feelings hurt? Your "boy" isn't so "Walk On Water" afterall huh? SUCK it up big boy. That kitchen is hot!

      May 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • VAVoter

      I don't think any of the Obama-blamers had any critical thinking skills. They obviously can't read either. In the above article, the President CLEARLY states that he is responsible for getting this thing cleaned up (even though it really isn't his fault, its BPs fault, but he's the President, so what else is he going to say). But then we get these bobble-heads posting messages saying that the President isn't taking responsibility for it. What? Can you read? Were you listening? I think that stupidity of the masses is the #1 threat to national and economic security.

      May 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      Actually, feelings not hurt at all. Just wish more people could read or listen before they spoke or write. And I know Obama can't walk on water. Bush was considered the second coming of God when he was in office was he not? So I left the water walking for him.

      May 27, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • RetVet2wars

      Rachel, "gal" I see you enjoy using the word "boy" a lot when referring to the President, you must be might lowwww. Dan it is so refreshing to read something that speaks of facts and not hate filled opinions. For all those who truly believe in this Country and know that things do happen in this world when over exposed or is push too far, result in a very bad situation that sometimes is out of our control and will take time to repair. Two those Americans I say I stand with you, and those that are the breeders of hate – maybe not today or next week, but your day will come, the pitt you dig for Obama may be your own!!!!!

      May 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nygdb

    Some people are really two faced. Don't want government getting into the business sector, UNTIL, something screws up and then they want to know why did they let it happen. Not enough oversight. This is really sad. GOP is about as two faced as they can get.. This may bring the country together..

    May 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Frank Rizzo

    I'm a strong supporter of the POTUS, however this Press Conference was Shameful the POTUS was ill prepared; I still support him I believe his heart is in the place, it's his advisers that SUCK............

    May 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John

    Anyone that b**tches about the government not doing enough you should start heading to Louisiana to help clean. Stop being a hypocrite...whining about it as you sit around typing on your computer. Get off your a** and do something.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachel you did when Katrina hit Louisanna huh? You were right there huh big boy? You were quick to criticize a REAL President, i.e., President Bush, but your ass wasn't anywhere near Louisanna to help clean up the mess!!! PUKE!!!

      May 27, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      I was there for Katrina. I have been there for this oil spill and going back again. have you done?

      May 27, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BUTCH

    LibraryGirl said it best. Go back up and reread it again. Quit waiting for the other guy to fix it send out the hundreds of boats tied up all along the gulf and get cleaning. Everytime I hear LA saying they are going to get moving, it always refers to tomorrow or the day after. Sounds like Katrina, here's the buses, no we'll wait in the Dome, oops it's all the governments fault. Grow up, work together and defaet this spill clean up. LibraryGirl has my vote whiners!

    May 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      That is what I have been posting too, this looks like Katrina all over again with the state officials "waiting" for someone to do "something". Get out there and do it yourself and worry about pointing fingers after it is all over.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Notaobamafan

    Obama was a joke before he was elected and he is still a joke after his election. Its sad to see all the supporters that are as ignorant as our president.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • melissa

      Obama is a man.... He is not the Maaseiah. What do you exspect of him... He still better than the Bush-iter

      May 27, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus68

      Obama got elected because the media put fear into the voters about McCain and Palin. The media portrayed Palin as the Presidential candidate and being inexperienced. They portrayed McCain as being too old. The media was scared to attack Obama for fear of being labled as racists. The Dems wanted the WH and they got it. Thing is that Palin has more experience than Obama and Biden is an idiot. They wanted change, but I don't think it was this kind of change they wanted.

      May 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • melissa

      too marcus68- Obama was elected because he is and was smarter than them..............

      May 27, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Don

    Mechanical processes can be made safe, but not failsafe. Look at air travel for example. Continious improvements in aircraft, control systems, and weather forcasting have made it the safest form of travel yet there are still occasional crashes. There are about 18,000 offshore wells currently in operation and this is only the 2nd major spill in history.
    Granted, this is tragic and horrifying on many levels, but the retoric is getting us nowhere. The reality is that there is no current technology or process available to clean-up a spill of this size. We will do what we can, but in reality the damage has already been done and it will continue to effect this region for decades. No one will come out and say that but it is true. We need to look at ourselves to examine why we consume 25% of the worlds energy yet we represent less that 6% of the population. We need a "Manhattan" project to create and implement green energy technologies on a massive scale. Lets replace all of the drilling rigs with wind farms, build a greeen energy infrastucture and stop worrying about where our oil is going to come from. God bless the people of the Gulf, and yes even this will one day pass.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. melissa

    Thank you john- How many of us were yelling DRill baby Drill? I bet you'd like to slap Sarha Palin Silly, now. We cant keep crying like babys. That's what got us in this mess.......................

    May 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rick

    Funny how Obama tells us he's in charge just about the time that "top kill" might actually be working. Watch him step up and take the credit when that is confirmed (just like Al Gore invented the internet). Hoping that BP's latest efforts do in fact work, watch Obama turn back to saying it's BP's responsibility if it doesn't (or yet again blame Bush). BTW, all the work on this well didn't even start until October 2009.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tammy L. Hoover

    I thought this was one of Obama's best speeches until the last line. Fooly engaged. I have had a successful career in IT with EDS and LM and never had the luxuary of being subsidized by T-Gas Money from Alaska or "Candy Crop" money for Agriculture. Our nation's allegiance states "one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all." Since 2001 I have worked at home unpaid 4 out 10 years due to cyberterrorism cottage industries. The first time I didn't understand, this time I have escalated to FOSE 2010 lawyers who specialize and the FBI. It's time American justice works for all and stops subsidizing the few or shadowing the innocent to protect the guilty. Conspiracy theory to create fantasies. Be it Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, the Tooth Fairy or Santa Clause.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dan

    I am so glad everyone loves to blame the President. Did he not just say BP cannot do anything without the agreements of the entire scientist etc.? I did not get my extra paper towels from the government; I did not get my shower because the president didn't say I could yet. Seriously is he any good to stand there when he has plenty of satellites to look at it all over his office, I am sure he can be of so much use answering questions for 100000 issues while he is standing looking at all that oil that has made a huge mess. That is also not the only thing going on in the world right now either. All the people that said we should have could have well it didn't and it is what it is now. Be useful and not useless, and make all this sarcastic remarks and bash people you voted for! The not so funny thing is I bet 40% of the people on here that are so quick to point the finger at the president are not even registered to vote! Some of you putting all your efforts into all this finger pointing, bashing, and the I want money now comments etc. If you really did care about your environment at the moment, you wouldn't be making nasty remarks about drowning people in oil, and all this horrible stuff! Instead why not try putting those efforts and posting ideas to help. Or get out of your house and do something to help. The people that say well he isn’t doing anything, but talking well, all you’re doing are the same thing! The best post I saw yet was the FACTS this is WAY above our technology for this kind of disaster so deep into the ocean floor. Don't forget we learn from our mistakes and make it our lessons learned. Don’t forget also that BP wasn’t just the only company involved. At least they are standing up trying, and hired the best people known in this business.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ginger

    I am absolutely appalled that Obama had the audacity to make a speech that showed he had has not and will not take any responsibility for this catastrophe that is happening in the Gulf. I agree, BP caused this and BP has to pay, but why is he not taking "charge" and demanding answers and results? When I am listening to my president giving a news conference and he goes on to compare his administration with Bush's administration I am disgusted and fed up. This man is putting our freedom in jeopardy. He is not a leader, he is a follower. He is more worried about Hollywood stars joining him for dinner at the White House than he is about jobs, pollution and animals dieing. He needs a wake up call and fast. Atleast when Bush was my president, I trusted that he would not tolerate terrorists planting bombs in cars in the middle of Times Square or blowing one up in their pants on an airplane. WTC attack was the ONLY attack that we had while Bush was in power. Obama hasn’t even been in office for a year and there have been two attacks on us and North Korea is planning an attack on us. I am PROUD to admit, I did not vote for this man. He had no experience, people only voted for him because they wanted to be part of “history.” Obama is qualified to be a motivation speaker, not a president. The only people we should blame is ourselves because we left this great country be ruled by a weak, irresponsible, fame craving, manipulating man. Congrats, America.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Notaobamafan


      May 27, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      WTC was not the only attack under Bush's watch. Get your facts before you start your Tea Party rant

      May 27, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      Way to conflate everything and make it one person's fault. The comparison was made because it was in response to a question from the press, specifically, in the fatuous comparison between the response to Katrina and the current disaster in the Gulf. There is such a thing as history, Ginger, and legacy; clearly the decisions of the previous administration(s) have an impact on current events. The president constantly said things like "we didn't appreciate...", "we didn't fully understand...", "our response in this respect was slower than it should have been...." That is called the president taking responsibility. Just because he didn't fall to his knees and beg forgiveness doesn't mean he doesn't understand the role his administration played in the lead up to this disaster. That said, the lead up must include the sweet-heart deals made by Dick Cheney in his closed-door strategy sessions with big energy in 2002-2003.

      And your other complaints? NO ONE has ever developed an effective strategy against lone-wolf terrorists determined to carry out attacks, not Russia, not Israel, no one. Yet your demand seems to be the Obama personally audit every person (citizen or not) that MIGHT be a terrorist. Not sure if you're familiar with reality, but any sane person will tell you that this simply isn't possible. It's a risky world. While we should expect the federal government to do it's utmost to protect it's citizens, there will always be risks. Frankly, I'm a lot more comfortable with the prospect of facing occasional lone-wolf threats than a cadre of 20+ actors in a highly coordinated attack, as happened on 9/11 under Bush.

      May 27, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      Ginger...You should do what the Tea Party is doing right now...BE QUIET AND STAY OUT OF THE WAY! To say the WTC was the ONLY attack simplifies the truth. It is not that attacks were not happening, it is more that Bush censorship was hiding them better. Ask yourself why Bush would not allow flag drapped coffins to be filmed or aired during his reign...Ask yourself if arresting a man at the Republican Nationa Convention because he voiced his opinion about HIS president was the actions of a government you can trust. Ask yourself if you want your phone calls monitored because you are a muslim. Ask yourself if you want your child removed and detained from an airplane because his NAME was on a no fly list. Just stop and ask yourself how much freedom you are willing to give up. Your rant against our president is not helping the Gulf. You may not have voted for him but the majority did. The rep. party lost the election...BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME! That is Democracy for you...and GOD how I love it!

      May 28, 2010 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. NoBama Hussein

    They didn't use the top kill method first because BP wanted to try and collect the oil that was leaking. So they wasted several weeks of time, trying to build containment units to collect their "black gold". They should have plugged it immediately. Then we wouldn't have this environmental disaster. Obama can't really do anything, he's a community organizer. If you notice, he doesn't act on anything until enough people complain about it.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacob

      Start driving to the Gulf to help clean up if you have a problem with it. Didn't think so. Hypocrite.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |

    Why don't we try to put explosive close to the well head and let colaspe on top of it's self

    May 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Roger

    WAIT A MINUTE!!!!!!! Some of you are saying the government doesn't have the resources to stop the leak? THEN WHY ID OBAMA CLAIMING TO BE IN CHARGE!!!!!!!!! You mean we let the oil companies drill in our waters and have no means to respond if a disaster occurs? Come on people. This isn't a Democrat or Republican thing. All the presidents are worthless.


    May 27, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
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