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. Spoilers

    The Oil has to stop gushing before anything can be done

    Obama is not Captain Planet; it's the kind of disaster that we're having problems stopping, much less starting to clean the massive mess up, he can't go out there and make it better you fools.

    If half of Florida was to suddenly break and drift away, I'm sure everyone would flock to Obama's porch to protest him as well. Just because he's the leader doesn't make him the sole blame.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      I don't think we are complaining about what he can't do, such as stopping the leak, but what the government can do, such as start cleaning up the mess that has reached the shore. Even the Valdez spill cleanup started faster than this one.

      May 27, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      Thank-you! Well said!

      May 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Russell

    How exactly is closing down all these projects in the gulf supposed to help anything? Yes, I know, things need to be monitored. But, those men and women who work out there need jobs. We are going to see some people get laid off because our government is too slow with this. Foreign oil dependency...here we come.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Until they can realiably stop the next spill, I'm not willing to risk my Virginia coast line for this, thank you very much.

      May 27, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Have you seen the numbers on the economic value of the west coast? Are you aware the work force that will lose their jobs, home, business completely surpasses the total amount of offshore oil drilling jobs 10 fold? I am not trying to be rude, but those are the facts. And as far as relying on foreign oil, first, this is one big world at there are countries that always have what another wants, secondly the United States will never produce enough oil to not rely on foreign sources. All we do is supplement it. And besides, we wipe out the west coast economy and we will triple our reliance on foreign sources for seafood alone!

      May 27, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tyler

    wow...cnn is only taking cuts and excerpts on this...if you listen to the actual audio...he is making no sense at all..

    May 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Well watch the press conference in its entirety and you will find that it makes total sense

      May 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. David in Auburn WA

    More demagogue posturing. The government is now "supervising" BP? They have to consult with Obahma's people? Really? Exactly *who* in his government has the expertise to do this? The administration's Mineral Management Service was supposedly supervising BP before and that had what result?
    Now his brilliant "solution" to this a million- to-one freak accident is to throw the baby out with the (oily) bath water, shut down off shore drilling, crank the price of gasoline sky high during the summer driving season, and give our Arab (ha ha) friends a huge windfall. Ah yes, leadership. I am shocked he hasn't yet found a way to claim that the accident was somehow George Bush's fault.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      amen.

      May 27, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey

      Actually he just did blame Bush!

      May 27, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Doreen

    Why in God's name(and I mean that literally) does Obama make such stupid statements!!!! It could take "months" to clean up. If he's held so many meeting meetings, no lets say common sense, tells you it will never be cleaned up. Maybe, and I mean maybe, it will take years. Does he mean it could take months to cap? Statements like that just make people angry. First of all it's an insult to anyone who has reasoning ability, and second of all it just makes us doubt him..

    May 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tyler

    cnn says nothing about the reporter talking about the SEVENTEEN countries that have offered help and Obama saying we don't want help.....typical cnn

    May 27, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • vapalla

      He didn't say that. He said the countries offered help, but there was redundancy in the items being offered. The government took offers of stuff they could use.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Louise

    I'm also a supporter of Pres. Obama, but have been waiting and waiting to hear from him about this oil leak. He reiterates during his press conference today that he and the US agencies have been hard at work on a solution to this mess for weeks–that BP has not been calling the shots on this. Why hasn't he kept us–the American citizens– in the loop?? In fact, Pres. Obama says the oil leak been his main concern. Why does he let comedians and pundits and opinion polls attack him instead of simply communicating to us–right at the outset–his anger and frustration with BP? He cannot continue to operate in a vacuum and expect the American people to have faith in him. Please communicate more, Mr. Obama.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tyler

    says nothing about the reporter talking about the SEVENTEEN countries that have offered help and Obama saying we don't want help.....typical cnn

    May 27, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ashley G

    Why are we just getting this sense of leadership from President Obama???? This is the 38th day yes? BP does not give a fart, they are a Dutch company and will do anything to hide behind their own coat tails.
    This is not the first time I have felt the President has been too laid back. The handling of the party crashers that HIS Social Sect. allowed to attend which DID endanger not only his life but everyone in his cabinet and the U.S., Yet she was not fired, but allowed to resign just months ago.
    With the Christmas attempted terrorist attack (he allowed his response to be delegated, instead of going and demanding an immediate investigation and a cohesive response where everyone was on point)
    The actual firing of his top Intelligence head a week ago, was left to reporters to tell us he resigned intead of President Obama publicly coming out and saying he has not done a good job and I want him out.
    While I love that President Obama thinks things over to come to a solution....WE need LEADERSHIP, not delegation in matters that should be addressed by the President......Mr. President you are no longer a Senator.....you ARE the President.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Claeb

      Ashley

      BP is not British company, that is why its called british petroleumn. Get your facts straight.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lin

      BP is not a Dutch company, it's a British company, hence it's name British (B) Petroleum (P).
      And as we've been discovering for the last 17 months, it takes more than 17 months for the President to clean up the atrocities that the Bush gang left behind. Obama has inheirited an economic crisis, a job crisis, 2 wars, an immigrant fiasco, and now the largest oil spill in history with oil companies writing their own rules from these arrogant idiots. And what do the Republicans say? – "Drill, baby, drill" and "Obama is too hard on BP" and now Sen. Inhofe blocking legislation that would make oil companies and BP pay whatever it will cost to clean-up this mess and reimburse all those whose jobs will be lost.

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

      Did anyone ask what changes were made to fix the corruption? Or are we now just taking his word that changes were being made?

      May 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • espian2

      While watching the press conference, I was thinking how if this had happened during the Bush administration, it would not be the President speaking, but some under secretary. Mr. Bush would not have had the understanding or the ability to respond to reporters' questions that Mr. Obama had.

      May 27, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Reddonkey

    The GOP's are sitting back and enjoying this circus. Nothing like a clueless rookie absolutely doing nothing in office, plus killing our countrys environment. WHy does he care...he is too busy playing basketball, picking tourament brackets, and NBA champions. I bet he goes to bed every night and just laughs how stupid the american people are to actually put him in as a president of the United States. Lets put a C.N.A. in the position of a cardiac doctor.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jim

    Give me a break people. Obama should do something.... What? The Government does not have the means to deal with this. What should be done has come and gone. Some say NO NO NO to regulation now you would like for something to be done. NO NO NO economy goes to heck. NO NO NO Gulf is being destroyed. Continue to be obstructionist or racist or polarizing or unAmerican and "Deal" with what we get.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Really!? What can the government do!!!? They can give control to the local gov to take care of what they need to instead we are stuck in red tape waiting to do something! Maybe you should come down here Jim and see for yourself!!

      May 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. kat

    Working on it since day 1? during the state dinner, golfing, bribing etc. ARE YOU STILL PLANNING YOUR VACATION IN CHICAGO THIS WEEKEND?

    May 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bullox

      Why not? He does nothing better than fly around in air force one! Since becoming President he has racked up more frequent flyer miles than any other.

      May 27, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bruce Kozak

    This planet has, they say, been devastated by about 4-5 disasters, that wiped out 90% of all living species. Human beings will be the 6th reason for its devastation.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MartyO

    PLEASE Mr. President....answer the questions! We thought you where our Leader. This is a Major Crisis.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ex cnn viewer

    CNN continues to provide the worst coverage of live events. The TV view showing the CNN video wall with the President in the smallest screen is just stupid. I had to turn to FOX to get a full screen of the President. What has happened to CNN?

    May 27, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tyler

      Communist News Network...what could u expect?

      May 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • demmie

      yeah really – i am listening to the Presser and seeing what CNN is posting – amazed and shocked at the difference. . .

      May 27, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      That's the greatest thing about America. If you don't like it, change the channel. CNN must be doing something right or you wouldn't be on their website huh? 🙂

      May 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
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