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. Mike

    He finally found a way to blame Bush for the oil spill:

    [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.

    So all that has stopped since he came into office?

    May 27, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kat

    OMG Afgannistan Helen.... she's nuts!

    May 27, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tyler

      Btw thats a White house press reporter that asked that question not a real press reporter

      May 27, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      I know right?

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

    Sorry didn't finish. cutting and pasting error.

    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. This was a law to force the responsible party to pay up. The Coast Guard has been involved and bringing in the best minds to solve this . 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 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pam Maas-Maciak

      Yeah...let's blame every President before BO; after all, it's their "fault"! Please, he has been in office 15 months and he is supposed to be a "Leader", not a blamer. Maybe you should come live on the Gulf Coast, you may feel differently. One thing he does great is raise money for his campaign!

      May 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • SickoftheDroner

      Obama is such a smart president. Let's see – he criticized Bush's $400 billion deficit, but now he has run that up to $13 trillion. He was critical of Bush for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but he has not brought either to an end, and we are on the precipice of all out war between 1) Iran and Israel and 2) North and South Korea. He is critical of Bush on the economy, but we now have nationwide average 10% unemployment despite throwing away billions on an ineffective jobs approach. He was critical of Bush on a slow response to Katrina, but he has waited 40 days to even address the public on this ecological nightmare. When does Obama decide to put his big boy pants on and take responsibility for his own problems? If he still can't handle the job because he has to keep blaming Bush, then get the hell out of the office and let someone with leadership take control.

      May 27, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Eileen

    Would it kill CNN to actually transcript this? I'm looking for a direct quote here about how the oil companies' exploration requests were essentially rubber stamped (not the words he used, which is why I'm looking for a quote) because 30 wasn't enough time to do a complete Environment impact assessment.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pam Maas-Maciak

    The only thing this man can do well is raise money for his campaign fund and he gives really good lip service. Blah, blah, blah. He doesn't answer the questions that are asked of him and my personal favorite is..."Let me answer your second question first...." and then never gets back to the meat of it! Leader? Yeah, a good campaign fundraiser; leader of a country, I think not. Talk is cheap my man~

    May 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joseph Kelly

    Obama keeps on saying "we" are evaluating options, "we" are making decisions, the Federal Gov't has acted, the “administration” asked for, the "agency in charge", blah blah ... but who the heck is "we" and he never names the agencies – he is obviously not the owner of the problem – why doesn’t he ever say “I” am doing blah blah. He talks about a commission to prevent this from happening again – can't that wait to later and get those skimmer tankers and barrier islands going and get the BP subcontractors immediately under his control. He delegates way too much ... he says there was a complacency – no joke – HIS ! He keeps saying the way it was explained vs. even implying that he is driving the direction to clean-up this mess... He also says BP’s interests are the public interests – der – sounds nice on the surface… Mr. President – take control – listen to James Carvelle and the governors in the region and others – not your inept cabinet. My assessment is that he is hoping way too much and has not yet prepared for the worst as he suggests he has – what the heck… This mess is more important than anything else he has on his plate…

    May 27, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. kat

    The cleanup is going to be far worse in terms of the the health of the workers. They are already sick.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Carl Lindberg

    Lost my re-election vote, all concerned should use wahaever means there is available, no matter how small, to curtail more damage tio gulf. Clearly a boiler plate response by our wonderful government.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark Buck

      Who you gonna vote for Palin?

      May 27, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. EmmaJames56

    Did I just heard Obama blame the Bush Administration of this? What a joke! He has never taken full responsibility of his office, and it is 5/27/2010.

    Take a good hard look America, he never really answers a question, and he looks clueless.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Katherine

    Amazing! Obama's comment we have been involved since day one. Just last week I saw him at the White House throwing a party for the President of Mexico and once again apologizing for this country. I am sick and tired of him bashing our country. The country that made him president. I am sickened and heart broken for the wild life that are dying at the hands of stupid humans. This will be be felt for generations to come. I weep for humanity.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark Buck

      Conservatives all of a sudden being animal rights activists.

      May 27, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. drew

    I don't understand what it is that people think Obama and the fed gov. can do to speed up this process. This is our gov. not a technological oil company. From where I sit, we can only expect Obama to push bp to stop the leak and begin clean up ASAP. There's no reason to believe the gov. can do a better job.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tyler

      the same can be said about health care too buddy 🙂

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

      I totally agree. He can't wave a magic wand

      May 27, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      So we here on the gulf coast should just sit and wait for BP to get around to cleaning up the oil that has came ashore and stop the oil from coming ashore, when is it the governments responsibility to protect our shore line? By the way drew Joe and Tyler stay off our beaches stop eating our sea food ( shouldn't be hard it's all oil soaked and dead) or better yet come down here and see how well BP and the coast guard are handling this disaster! I think your issue is that you are un educated on the problem and are not grasping the enormity of the situation!

      May 27, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tyler

      uneducated...yeah thats it...do u really think BP likes seeing all the oil getting ruined??? really

      wow liberalism really is a mental disorder

      May 27, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kevin in DBQ, IA

    WOW!!! Watch out!!! This is from Obama's address?!?!?! He really knows how to take action!!! All are a form of inaction... of NO. Knida sounds like the President of... NO!! "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.""

    May 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. George

    Once again, all this president does is talk. When the nation want action, Obama speaks.
    He talks the talk, but never walks the walk.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. EmmaJames56

    PS We also have the press (or lack there of) of honesty covering Obama's administration for this mess and all future messes. There are no checks and balances.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jim

    We as a world society have dug ourselves a hole that we can't get out of. We all demand a product that can cause harm to ourselves and our Earth, in one way or the other. In life, stuff happens, that's why we have insurance. But when stuff happens with high demand products that can cause harm, we all look at the harm and cry and complain, but we all still use our gas powered boats, cars & planes. What do you expect?? The more we demand it, the more they will drill for it, and the more they drill for it, the chance for disasters like New Orleans or Exxon Alaska, will increase. Again, stuff happens – what do you expect?

    As for alternative energy – unfortunately, our US government is owned by global corporations, which includes oil. Alternative energy will not happen because the global corporations that own the US government, don't what it to happen. They pull the strings of our lawmakers and there is too much money for them to lose. Oil will continue to flow, one way or the other. That's the way it is.

    This is what we all want – live with it.

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