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. Gil

    This is worse than any oil spill in history. Th worst environmental catastrophe in US History.
    With all the toxic dispersant being used and the underwater plume we can't even see yet growing by the minute the Gulf Coast, unfortunately will become a dead zone. So sad. With oil settling on the deep ocean floor and now heading out to open sea the damage to Mother Earth is not yet known at this point. Who knows how long the Earth will take to get over this. Could be many decades. We don't know. I just think the government should devote all resources to stopping that leak ASAP. Letting the profit motive be BP's incentive to stop the leak simply has not worked. Every technician and scientist in the world should be resourced now to end this leak. Too late for the environment. Untold damage has already been done.

    Here's a new song about this catastrophe that sums up the frustration:

    http://gilsmusic.bandcamp.com/track/drill-baby-drill

    May 27, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sandy

    I grew up in Louisiana and when I was a child, we had a Govenor named Earl K. Long. He was an absolute nutjob. Obama MUST be related.

    May 27, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. I Are Listening

    I've been reading through some of these discussion items and feel this media rodeo is, sadly and once again, detouring us around what's really happening. The oil spill is just another example of big business (BP) taking the consumer / taxpaper's dollar without a drop of responsibility in the process. This is no different than the Monopoly players on Wall Street last year who wildly and stupidly threw OUR MONEY around for their own immediate profit with no concern for who would lose their home or retirement fund. BP is out there making billions of $$$ drilling for oil with no regard to guaranteeing that the environment will be safe. They seem to have the technology to drill a mile down in the ocean, but lack the technology to prevent disaster by doing so. Just think, if every farmer, for example, could put any type of pesticide/herbicide/fertilizer they wanted on their farmland without any concern as to who breaths it in or how it affects the final food product. They could grow 10 times as much product and reap huge $$$ and what the hell, who cares if the neighbor kids are born with only one eye in their foreheads?!! Well, that USED to be the case, until the feds stepped in and outlawed those types of chemicals (DDT comes to mind). But here in this century we not only have big business completely out of control, but also Washington with not a clue what's happening in this country, much less keeping an eye on big business or protecting our natural resources. This situation in the gulf is not a surprise, is it? I mean, who's watching the store? No one. The only people who care are the consumers, and we've been so taxed to death we have no resources left to fight on our own.

    May 27, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • marjan

      There is an eerie similarity between the Wall Street risks taken and BP. The common denominator is $$ of course.
      Guess we should be happy , it was not an ExxonMobil gusher or we might be bailing out that Company in the future . At least the US will not be bailing out UK BP.

      May 27, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • GinasDailyOpEd

      You are right – we all agree that safeguards need to be in place by our government.
      Now, about that DDT... you would be right except that we are still ingesting DDT. I may be wrong but I've heard that our government banned our farmers from using DDT here in the U.S. but never banned the manufacturing of the chemical. So, now companies here in the U.S. are manufacturing the DDT and selling it to other countries like, I believe, Chile. Chile, in turn uses the DDT on the crops then ships the DDT sprayed fruit to ......the U.S.

      May 27, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. walleye

    I am so glad we have Obama as our Pres. This man is not afraid to tackle any job, nor take responsibility if necessary. All I remember is Bush/Cheney always trying to blame the other guy for THEIR mistakes – and there were MANY.

    May 27, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandy

      Gosh Walleye Wally, your companion libs on this blog don't seem to be agreeing with you. Perhaps Bush is attacking this blog.

      May 27, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. R

    If you have not been paying attention, our local officials don't have the authority. Thats why everyone down here is so frustrated. Maybe if Mr. Obama had been here and not in CA fundraising, he would know what is really going on. But that would mess up his future excuse of being ill advised!
    This sucks! Maybe Obama can't swim down there and fix the leak, but he could have been down here and at least ACTED like he cared!!
    This isn't about politics. It is real life for some of us!!

    May 27, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. H Levine

    Mr President:

    Shame on you!! How can you compare Presdent Bush's response to Katrina which was a natural disaster to the oil spill which based on testimony yesterday could have been prevented!! By the way I will be 62 next week and have never heard of Mineral Management Services which means it porobably should go away because i am sure whether Republican or Democrat neither has anyone else. put it under the EPA get rid of some popele and save us some money because in the end I am sure that BP is not going to foot the bill because there is no one fro the federal governemnt overseeing the operation to ensure that BP is totally captued financially.

    May 27, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RetVet2wars

    Ok, Rachel, Marcus68, and the rest who only see a mean to low rate the President and wish for his death, those that also mean his wife, children and the rest of his family, seed of his seed? Do to an injury I am now Disable but I work, do I blame anyone – no it's a part of life and the plan that God had for me. I am a SURVIVOR

    May 27, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dave

    Why blame BP? Our goverment took on the responsibility for this when they imposed regulations, inspected the site, and then signed off on what was being done. If you are the regulator, you are also the one with the responsibility!

    May 27, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chi-town bob

    Sorry, this deal was done by Dick Cheney and BP in 2002. MMS was in trouble from that scandle three years ago a bunch of them got arrested for taking bribes from BP. This is not gonna happen overnight to get all the Bush appointees kicked out of Washington. Obama has been in office 14 months, he's not a miracle worker, but this shows just what happens when you let Republicans run the show with deregulations and bribes. We can never, never, never have another Republican in the white house again.

    May 27, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Notaobamafan

      I'm glad you only have one vote!!!

      May 27, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Sounds like Obama had 14 mo to fix an important problem... Time to stop blaming everyone else for his failings.

      May 27, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • GinasDailyOpEd

      GREED has no party lines. Vote for the man or woman, not the party.

      May 27, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jerry Brown

    Thank you Mr. President for your fast response, concern for the people of the Gulf Region, and your usual diligent and visionary plan for cleaning up this mess. And for ensuring our environmental and energy policy is much greater than just oil.

    Then maybe we can also get out of all the wars we are in because of oil also–and that will surely grow our economy.

    May 27, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rob

    Ok sick of it! Everyone shut up about politics!!!!! The oil is coming ashore on R's coastline and mine soon we are finding tar balls every day and the size of the spill is to great for anyone to even think it isn't going to come ashore in Miss, Ala, and Fl. As well, we need to know that we here on the local level have the power to do what we need to do to stop the oil from hitting our shore line and those in LA need their hands untied so they can get out there and clean the mess as well as stop anymore oil from coming ashore! We need the funding so that we can get the resources ourselves instead of waiting days or weeks for a BP rep to pass it up the chain and maybe get what we need

    May 27, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. walleye

    TO Notaobamafan who says Obama has taken bible and prayer out of the public schools.

    Where have you been the last 20 years. The supreme court took that out years ago under a RepubliKlan regime.

    May 27, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Notaobamafan

      Obama did not recognize national prayer day! He doesn't believe in it. The guy is nonchristian, unpatriotic, and against all beliefs that were put forth from our roots.

      May 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. daniel t

    Every one knows terrorists blew up the rig, just relax....... this problem will all go away.

    May 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      There are no terrorists... just "man made disastorists".. Though it wasn't a terrorist this time, it probably gave them some ideas. Hopefully our wonderful government will think that far ahead, and protect us BEFORE it happens.

      May 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • marjan

      I dunno corporate terrorists seems fitting. After all, they are using running away oil wells as a WOMD.

      May 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Angela p.

    Obama is only a man, he is tryin to fix a nation that had destruction put upon it by Busch.... Give him time he's doing what he can as he can.....

    May 27, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandy

      Hi Angie, tell the rest of your 7th grade civics class that your logic is grossly wrong and you will study more before you post more comments.

      May 27, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. J J

    It's gonna be interesting to see what happens when a huge number of small business go out of business and at least 10's of thousands of people loose their job from suspension of drilling in the gulf. Lousiana and Mississippi have already been hit hard from the spill, now they are about to be hit harder economically.

    May 27, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • marjan

      Yep, Big Oil creates plenty of revenue for the locals. They are being hit now with a double whammy to their economy. Suspect the same is true for Alaska with that major project of exploratory drilling by Royal Dutch Shell on hold.

      May 27, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
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