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. FedUp2010

    It is a shame that we are having this discussion.
    We all need to stop yakking and start cleaning up. The government needs to provide support for a massive clean up project and now, Bill BP later. The longer we talk about the issue the more damage will be done.
    This area is just recovering from Katrina and we can not turn our backs on them again. They need our help.
    God help us all if this gets into the gulf and heads north.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Barb

    Why couldn't the feds order BP to fill the pipe with concrete immediately?

    May 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • vapalla

      Because it wouldn't work. Do you realize how high the pressure is a mile down? The fact that the oil was emerging as fast as it has been shows you how powerful that blow-out is. Not only would it have spit the cement out, it would have damaged the pipe more. Using the mud first lessened the chance of that happening. Pray that works and cementing will come next!

      May 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joe

    What do you guys want him to do ? Dive 5,000 feet and plug the hole himself !!! Give me a break !!! The only way this will be stop is by relief wells just like in 1979 in Texas.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Joe, many of us here on the coast are not focusing on the capping the oil because we know that BP has the technology to get that done, what we are getting frustrated about is when our local government wants to take action they have to take that to the coast guard and bp then wait and wait for approval all the while we are waiting the oil that was 20 miles off shore is now on shore and we still have no answer, you notice they wanted to build the sand burm weeks ago but where still waiting and now because of all the complaining on CNN Obama now says that have the go ahead, well the oil is ashore now and what could have been saved wasn't

      May 27, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bullox

      Yeah he can dive down 5000 feet and plug the well with his big head and he might need Michelle's butt to help.

      May 27, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tyler

    working on it??? Obama been talking about flipping basketball and screwing over the widows of military heros... yesterday he was in san fran RAISIN DAT MONEY for a dem candidate ...open ur eyes people

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

      You win the stupidest comment award! CONGRATS!!!

      May 27, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • RJ

      You are exactly right. Obama was in San Fran raising money for Pelosi and NOT TAKING THIS SERIOUSLY. But, you know what, I'm glad ... because if he isn't paying attention, he can't screw it up. When catastrophes occur, and they do and will again, good American's hunker down, fix things as best they can and go forward. BP is a good corporation, they never wanted this to happen and they will eventually get it fixed. Whether you like it or not, we NEED BP to be a profitable company, so we can continue to have gasoline for the vehicles we drive, just like we NEED Exxon/Mobil and the other oil companies. Think for a minute how many jobs would be lost, if your anger won out and BP was forced into bankruptcy... it would be even more devastating then what we are facing now. This leak, so called the worst disaster, will really have a very minor impact on the US. It is horrible for the coastal area where it is coming ashore, but overall for the US it is not a big deal. Get over yourselves, quit attacking business ... remember we ALL get paychecks and there is only so much we can blame others for, eventually it has to come home to roost. The problems that we are facing economically are a direct result of us (you and me) overspending and over-buying. It is time we took PERSONAL responsibility for our own actions. There will be other catastrophes in the future, we nor government can foresee every potential problem in advance, nor should we as citizens ever let them have the power to think they can legislate for every possible future occurrence. We the People need to return government to us. (and we will).

      May 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ForsettiI

    You're doing a heckuva good job, Thad?

    May 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Doubleodd

    A lot of carping here about how unhappy people are about the spill and how "our government is worse off than I thought".

    But not a single solution or suggestion for how this could be better dealt with now, or more importantly, avoided in the first place.

    My guess for the lack of coherent suggestions is that this is a complex issue that is many years in the making. Obama had little to do with it during his 13 months in government as he was fighting two wars and a broken economy he inherited. I'm not an Obama apologist, but it's just bizarre to place the blame on him.

    The reality is, both the financial mess and the oil mess are the direct result of corporate irresponsibility and government deregulation. The Republicans want industry to police itself. It's laughable now looking back to think that is anything other than ridiculous. But the Republicans got what they wanted and we can all see the result: Main street is bankrupt while Wall street is reaping huge bonuses. And the Gulf of Mexico is now the biggest ecological disaster ever besides Chernobyl and the people who live there will be affected for generations.

    We have reaped what we sowed.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • CNNreader

      I think you are way off base. The financial collapse was caused by the *government* requiring the financial industry to give loans to *everyone*, even those that shouldn't have been able to. Then the government said they would guarantee those loans (Freddie and Fannie) so of course the banks said "Ok", they had no risk.

      May 27, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Den

    Why aren't people in jail yet? someone is responsible for this. People died and now the marine life will suffer/die. Send a message Obama and but the people responsible / negligent in jail. Make them pay as well. Why aren't you cleaning the spill in the meantime. Do both. This is now a worldwide issue now. American's made the mistake but we are all going to pay for it.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tyler

      can he put himself in jail since he took over 1 million dollars from BP during his campaign

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

      lol.. ya I agree. It's illegal to accept gifts unless it's for the president. I now have a worst opinion of Obama.

      May 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      If you jail Obama for taking BP oil money you must also jail Bush for coming from a family who made its money in Texas Oil. You can't really think that every president since the 1960s has not been touched by the oil industry in one way or another. Pull your heads out of the sand and look around. You are just as guilty unless your car runs on air. Supply is driven by demand. The presidential candidates demand money, oil supplies it. You demand cheap gas the president supplies it. Sorry to inform you, but we are all in this together. 😦

      May 27, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • vapalla

      Actually, they may have what they need right now to do just that. I saw on another news site that the BP executive on the Horizon took the 5th today at the hearing. Now if true, that may just be a "Gotcha!" moment !

      May 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kaptan redd-nekk

    i suppose this administation will now let the oil companies pass the cost of this oil disaster on to the already starving public by raising their prices.if i were the president,i`d pick up the phone and demand that these over paid "oil executives" lower these already inflated fuel prices so the little people like me can buy something to eat!

    May 27, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Susan Eulberg

    I now dub him "Oil-bama". Why does he keep saying BP is the expert at capping the leak so we (the gov't) won't take over? So let BP continue to cap the leak, but get your gov't butts out there or hire contractors and CLEAN UP THE OIL that is already spilled!! Empower folks to make quick decisions! The red tape is ridiculous. They have had a month to keep the oil away from the coast and still failed. 20,000 people? Why not 50,000? Why not as many as it takes? Stop the retoric and get to work.

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

      Exactly!!! Stop the bull stop blaming there will be time later and let's get this cleanup going on a large scale before it effects more of the coast line! No more excuses, we have people sitting around waiting for the GO to get out there and do what needs to be done but no leadership to get the ball rolling the way it needs to!

      May 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lorie

    Get a grip people. The Gov't doesn't stockpile water booms or dispersants. What are you expecting them to do? Because of law that Congress passed after the Valdez spill, the federal government's hands are tied. They can only oversee the operation, but BP is responsible for the cleanup. Obama's administration had nothing to do with this law, The Coast Guard is involved and bringing in the best minds to solve this and it was done during Bush's tenure. Let's remember that the MMS was also governed by the Bush administration for 8 years when all the "gifts" started. Where was the oversight and regulation then?

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

      Blame bush. Really...let me guess he swam his ass down there and lit one up ?

      May 27, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      That's what we want them to do over see the operation coordinate efforts, we here on the coast want the government to take the role of cammand and control so that the assets that can be used are being used, and yes the oil leak is BP's responsibility and the cost of the cleanup is theirs but the efforts needed to protect the coast before the oil reaches the land is not BP that is the government but at the moment it is such a quagmire down here the local officials can't get permission form BP or USCG fast enough for efforts to be useful, research the local levels down here and you will find out we wanted to implement burms booms and other ideas but couldn't get approval for weeks, and we down here really can not tell who is running the show! And no everything that can be done is being done!

      May 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Damião Carlos

    Obama, he is the man, I support the president Obama, in my opnion he is a great president from USA. I hope that everything is going to be all right. http://www.englishtips-self-taught.blogspot.com

    May 27, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. kat

    Is Obama still going on his vacation in Chicago this weekend during this catastrophic crises? If he does, that will be the demise of his presidency. He makes me sick.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • espian2

      He makes you sick before you know the answer to your question? Like so many other bloggers, you seem to come with hate and use everything the president does to feed it. No, he is not vacationing in Chicago this week-end. He is going there tonight, and spending tomorrow working elsewhere while his family spends the weekend in their home.

      May 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Carolyn

    The good thing about Obama...he has peeved enough people off, of all colors, as well as showed them that they are more intelligent than he and his buddies he has filled the White House with, that he'll never get elected a second term. That's why he's "playing" instead of doing the job he's being paid big bucks to do. He's more pathetic than Bush ever was!

    May 27, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      "Of all colors??" Why the color remark moron? This is a BP oil spill issue, not a color issue

      May 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joey

    That's it, Obama...let's play the blame game again on previous presidents...HOW PATHETIC!

    May 27, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SickoftheDroner

    Obama drones on forever and ever. He is so slow talking, thinking, and making decisions! The only time he moves quickly is to impose another spending spree or claim racial profiling of his friend on that stupid local incident where police responded to a call of someone breaking into a home! Does he ever watch the news? Has this amateur administration even bothered to call the governor of Louisiana? Put Obama in a row boat with an oar and send him out into the marshlands! Maybe he is just a slow learner and needs a hands on to get the full picture!

    May 27, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pam Maas-Maciak

      You are so right on. Henry Louis Gates....now that was really worth Obama's immediate attention! I am over this man! Certainly not the man I thought he was, but sadly they never are.

      May 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
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