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. Dallas

    The same idiots criticizing the President now, were screaming Drill Baby Drill in 2008. The federal government does not have the capacity nor expertise to stop this leak. This is a major disaster that the best minds from around the world are trying to figure out. All major oil companies have stated that they would be doing the same things that BP is currently attempting. Did anyone think this mess would not come to shore? This oil flow has change flow and projections since this mess began. It cannot be contain until the flow of oil stops. And to those that don't understand what is meant by the cleanup will take months to clean up, it means that the visible oil clean up will take months. The environment recovery will take several years just as it has taken in Alaska. And you don't see anyone still cleaning up visible oil in Alaska.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NoBama Hussein

    explosives could make the leak worse.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Roger

    Steven, Why is Obama our only chance at clean energy?!!!!!! He's done NOTHING toward furthering alternative energy that wasn't already put in place before he came into office.

    Want to see something. Let Barack commit $500 billion to developing alternative energy for transportation right now.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JohnO

    This is what happens when you allow the Federal goverment to tax everything and pretend to be in charge of everything. People wait around waiting for someone else to make decisions to get things done. Cut federal funding back to the Defense and State and let the States take care of themselves. Bobby Jindle would have had those sand dredgers out there on day one if not for the idiotic federal regulators. Louisiana's shore belongs to Louisianans and it is their inalienable right to do what's best for themselves. Get the money out of Washington and let the States tax and spend their citizens money as they deem right.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Jindal is a joke.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnO

      Boston Harbor was an open cesspool for over 200 years. They completed a new sewerage treatment plant 20 years ago and now the harbor is considered a jewel. Harbor seals and porpoises are now common sights in the water. The contaminates found in Boston Harbor were many times worse than just the crude oil in the Gulf. There was a fair amount of crude dumped in the harbor over the years as well. Point being this leak in the gulf is insignificant. 5 years from now there will not be a trace in sight. Everyone needs to relax and keep things in perspective.

      May 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      mike is clueless, local government needs to have control of their shores and then have the USCG or homeland or military handling logistics

      May 27, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      You just lost me JohnO, the exxon spill wasn't as large as this one and they still havnt recovered, this "just oil" view you have isn't viewed with eyes wide open, the wet lands of LA is the nursery of the gulf it is right now wiping out the next generation of fish and other sea life as well as birds, the oil that you can not see is killing sea life as they swim through it and the oil from the dispersants settling on the bottom are killing the sea life that live and feed on the bottom, this spill is larger than any lake it is the size of states, and that's the viewable portions of the slick, do not take this spill lightly it isn't going to be months it's years 20 30 maybe never for some species

      May 27, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DEW

    please someone give this man what monic gave clinton, so we can get him out of office. there no way this man should be pres.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Hey Dew, we are all waiting for you to run for President and solve all our problems....oh ya...in your first year.

      May 27, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • NYC REPUB

      This man, as you call him is the right man for this job.........I will vote for him in 2012 STILL.......Especially if the recovery (i.e. unemployment) drops nicely in 2011. It's been a year and a half.....the perverbial sky was falling in January 2009....now we are moving in th right direction.......The coal mine blast, and this catastrophe, show the real need for new sources of energy........We need to begin now so that in 50-100 years we will be 80% free of oil dependency.

      May 27, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Tell us why. His policies have not caused any of this, the economy, spill, was fighting 2 wars when he took office. Tell us why. Do not hide behind some sound bite, tell us why.

      May 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dan

    Roger you should read the news more Barack already did that

    May 27, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    Capitalism does nothing but allow rich corporations to buy off any politician so they can get their way. This is nothing new and will never change. GREED GREED GREED.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. NYC REPUB

    To compare this to Katrina is a farce........yes LAND will be ruined, ANIMALS will die........Fishing in some areas will be awful, & a hit to that economy.........But in KATRINA 1800 PEOPLE DIED!!!! There is no comparison to that.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. EmmaJames56

    major earthquake in the south pacific...haarp at it again

    May 27, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. EmmaJames56

    this is a man made disaster, not an act of "god"

    May 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. stevesy

    Picture this–people are placed in positions that allow a rig to fail catastrophically while troops are being ramped up in Afghanistan. It seems like the government is saying, "Oh, no! Someone is pouring oil all over my hand!" While we are all watching as workers try to clean it up and stop the flow of oil, the other hand is fisting your mother.

    Just a thought.

    May 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. James

    I was working for BP for 6 years as a territory manager. Day by day we were told – "We are GREEN Company". I quit. Now feel sorry to all guys still working for BP. They will pay in salaries and wages, bonuses for this.

    May 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jim

    Some of you are sick. If this comment does not pertain to you take no offense. 1) Get out of the way of local government. So local government can do what. If anyone would like to do something "Pray". Loans were not the cause of the economic melt down. It played a role but was merely a distraction from what was really taking place "Greed" I am a Republican but an American first. Bush was unfairly criticized and yes he was my President. Obama ( vinegar in mouth ) is now my President. The problem is a public who vote for individuals who are for themselves and not the people.

    Share your plan with the rest of us regarding how to stop this spill. Not general come to area, delay vacation, stop with red tape. Those are sound bites, provide specifics otherwise at least consider that it is time to put people in office who are for term limits, being a voice for those who have had no voice (not regarding race or gender but income) and who would be Christ like therefore not causing discord amongst brothers nor spewing hate.

    May 27, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Jim...Christ like? More wars are fought for religion than anything else I can think of today...except maybe oil.

      May 27, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. marjan

    Wow, major blow to Royal Dutch Shell (bigger than BP and 40% Anglo 60% Dutch) which planned to start drilling off Alaska this July.

    May 27, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. VAVoter

    Nice try Repugnicants, but its not gonna fly....you want soooooooo badly for this to be "Obama's Katrina" like you wanted it to be his "Waterloo"..But the truth is, President Obama has dodged every poltical bullet & poisoned arrow that you all have tried to send his way. And with each victory, Republicans get madder and madder and uglier and uglier. President Obama will handle this issue just like he handles everything else. Thoughtfully and throughly and without flying off of the handle...THIS IS BRITISH PETROLEUM's mess... I still haven't heard what Louisiana's contingency plans for an oil spill were. Surely they knew that this was a possibility. What was Louisiana's plan for dealing with something like this?? Hmm? ((crickets...crickets))....rrrriiiiight.

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