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. Kevin in DBQ, IA

    The way it sounds he's been just simply voting "PRESENT" for the last few weeks while the oil leaks out.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin in DBQ, IA

      "he" being Obama...

      May 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. EmmaJames56

    He is a disgrace for blaming previous administrations for the lack of booms around our coastal communities.

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

      Emma,

      No, it is the previous administrations that are the disgraces.

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

      blame bush??? while obama raises money yesterday in san fran and talks basketball....

      May 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brad

    Wow. Have you ever seen a longer list of excuses and blame, and shorter list of actions?

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

      Well said, Brad!

      May 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Unprecedented BS

    Why is nobody questioning President Obama on his repeated use of "unprecedented" and "unforeseen" when we had such a similar incident 31 years ago?

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=127_1274931222

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

    What I dont understand is if President Obama has known for some time about the corruption between the oil industry and its regulators, why was he moving forward on more drilling in the states?

    May 27, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. EmmaJames56

    Has he directly answered a question yet?

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

    You want to blame someone I get that. Blame BP they took a chance on safety and lost. But all these statements the"government is doing nothing...the government should fix this" sounds more like a political rally than actually caring if this problem is fixed soon. At this point we should not be caring WHO fixes this problem but rather that it is fixed soon. People should stop pretending they have all the answers when the top experts in the WORLD can't figure out how to stop this leak. You really want to voice your opinion get off you butt, go down to LA and help clean up a beach. I am headed there tonight and would love to see a record crowd on the beach cleaning up. But as usually most people are too busy turning this into another political war.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      Brian, Please wear your "I'am a liberal / progressive / socialist / communist / fascist" tee shirt so the hard working, honest Louisiana natives can make sure to stay up wind of you. Things are bad enough in the marsh without you adding to the smell!

      May 27, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Elizabeth

    The Federal Government is not just the President; it includes hundreds of thousands of people doing the best they can. The Bush Administration made some bad choices that the Obama Administration is trying to fix. The Obama Admisnistration will make mistakes that the next guy will try to fix. Things take time. Be patient Gulf Coast and have faith in our Country. We will get through this together.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tyler

    What people are missing is the fact that the oil rig is not owned by BP ...it is owned by Hyundai....BP was simply leasing it ...but no one is blaming Hyundai. god forbid we blame a foreign company

    May 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Isn't BP a foreign Corp ?

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

      BP is traded on American Market ...Hyundai is not.

      May 27, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • james

      Transocean owned the rig. Hyundia built the rig. and BP was renting it.....ALL of those companies are foriegn

      May 27, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poliguy

      TransOcean own the rig that BP was leasing and Halliburton did the construction for the rig.

      May 27, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Susie Aronson

    This is the president that I spent an enormous amount of energy supporting, defending, and promoting when he ran for president. I wish I had known that excellent oratory and skirting or waffling can be an excellent pairing. I am dismayed, unimpressed, disgusted, and insulted that this president is just not of the callabor that he sounds like he is....not walking the walk....and only talking the talk...Sorry Obama, you lost me down the road back there.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ex cnn viewer

    did anyone see the 60 Minutes story on 5/16? A survivor of the explosion explained that BP knew the blowout preventer was damaged and that BP cut corners on procedures that resulted in the death of 11 people. WHY IS IT THAT NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT THE 60 MINUTES COVER STORY?

    May 27, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • SteveO

      It is easier to just blame Bush.

      May 27, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dan

    I agree that the federal government should have stepped in earlier and be a more aggressive leader. But don't take out all your frustrations on the federal government and the President. They are doing something. Go out and do something, whatever it is that you can, so that you are contributing to the solution, not the problem. They need all the help they can get.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. capnmike

    America seems to be full of idiots who have the ridiculous notion that either the President should automatically fix any disaster that happens, or if he can't he is a total failure. Of course, the oil companies are trying to make him look as bad as possible, as are all the liars on the Repiglican National Committee and their buddies. These folks would probably still prefer the dumb-as-dirt lying moron we had before Obama...

    May 27, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin in DBQ, IA

      We have every right to expect our President to recognize a true disaster and put forth ALL EFFORT necessary to limit the disaster. Sitting on the sidelines and keeping a boot on someone's throat does not cut it!!! The oil companies have no effect on how Obama looks, he's got that completely covered all on his own... (well maybe Gibbs helps him out too.)

      May 27, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CT

    There are tons of comments about Exxon Mobil and so on. Does any body know that Exxon never really cleaned up the oil spill. You can dig down 6 inches on the coast and still see oil 2 decades later, but no body talks about that. How about the 5 billion dollars they (Exxon) was told to pay but squeaked out paying 500 Million. People are saying Obama did not go down there yes he did remember the rainy day the first week. Lets not lose our heads here people, the U.S. Govt is not in the oil drilling business, it is in the Regulation of Oil Drilling. Should there be tighter rules yes, should BP be financially responsible yes. Can you blame the President for BP screwing the whole thing up NO. You can blame him if he did nothing. Obviously we have a lot of people complaining but it appears no one can even visualize or has any real scientific knowledge on how hard it is to plug up something over 5 miles down. Lets not forget the ships out there are still moving Pitch, Roll, Yaw not to mention wave currents, under currents, depth and temperature of the water. I'm not making excuses but you try dropping a 16lb weight in the 1 spot on the sea floor witha ll that going on and see if you get a new respect for what they are doing. Stop complaining and work the problem, that is what is slowing the process down, to many knuckle heads that don't know anything about anything speaking and the real solutions can't be heard or acted upon.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kevin in DBQ, IA

    So according to the quote that follows this Obama is just fine with the pace things are moving at?!?!?!?! What a JOKE!!!!
    "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.""

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