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. Joe M.

    Obama seems very determined to create the illusion that his Administration has been acting responsibly since the oil spill first occurred. He also wants to fabricate that the government has been behind every good decision that has been made while not responsible for any of the bad. This Administration is only concerned about its image, not about the spill, the people it affects, or his responsibilities to the people of this country.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Joe your statement doesn't even make sense. You are just posturing to set up the President to look bad no matter the outcome. Why don't you spend your time volunteering to clean up down at the coast instead?

      May 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Thomas Hobbes

    @ Damon: stop provoking. it is not just oil – 90% of our shrimps, craps and what-have-you nationwide come from the Gulf region, the pollution is many times higher than the EXXON VALDEZ accident and still an issue today (!). Sticking to this old-school-where-are-our-toys-philosophy will not bring us anywhere. Besides, the financial state of our nation is worth than the one of Greece! 1/3 of the world-wide depths belong to the U.S.. If anyone starts gambling with our country, it will be over any way

    May 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. EdInMs

    This administrations response to the Oil Spill is making Bush's response to Katrina look swift and dazzling. Seriously, over a month now? Unbelievable. Zero leadership.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigGrant

      Its important to note that anytime something is a challenge for Obama, he has to bring up a Bush problem. The Bush scapegoat is getting old and somebody needs to tell Obama to stop blaming everyone else.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Helen

    It is a beautiful day right now in NJ. I can't enjoy it 😦 I feel so sad for the devastation this oil spill is causing and is going to cause for years to come. So many animals are going to die and ecosystems are going to be destroyed. Oil companies have caused so much destruction to our planet and we are only hurting ourselves. I am surprised Obama isn't doing more or trying to get people to relize the urgency of this issue. I really wish I had the resources to go down to the gulf and help with the clean up.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Steven

    What should the government had done that it didn't? BP is the one with all the deep water technology. BP downplayed this from the start. If they would have been honest from the start maybe the government would have realized this was a bigger problem than they made it out to be.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rachel

    obama will do NOTHINGH!!! He will ("ESPECIALLY") do or say anythig derogatory to BP. BP was obama's largest financial supporter during his run for the presidency. If you think obama is going to even slap BP (or anyother oil company) on the hand then you have had a break with reality. obama is a crook of the 1st degree!!!

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

      What's new? You think he's the first? Give me a break BP is notorious for buying presidents just as every oil company does. Capitalism at it's finest. Nothing but greed is at fault here.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. FullControll?

    "Obama says the federal government has been involved in decision-making since Day One" Did the federal government also decide to ignore the EPA and continue using Corexit to disperse the oil???

    May 27, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Notaobamafan


    May 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. William Lewis

    To stop oil leak does not take rocket science.
    Simply create a steel slab weighing 10 tons or more and more than twice the size of the actual leak area. In the center of slab have a circular area protruding out from bottom, this is the area where slab will go over leak. The protruding area from bottom of slab should be about 10 ft or more long.
    On each corner of slab, attach a massive drill and generater. Have four ships positioned over the leak zone in a rectangle grid.
    Each ship has over 5,000 feet of steel cable attached to each corner of steel slab. Guide slab down with cables from each ship. Once slab is placed over leak, activate drills and screw down each corner to seabed, go down about
    30 feet for each screw drill. The protruding round part of slab will be forced into seabed around leak while the rest of slab is also covering surrounding area. Once slab is secured over leak, drop another slab about 30 tons in exact same way. Have the drills again screw in the previous slab binding them together.
    activate and screw to existing slab for added pressure. Leak is sealed, now go clean up the oil, if you need help on that let me know. None of this is impossible, all the materials exist now and it is quick and permenant.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rachel

    obama will NOT even slap the hand of BP or anyother oil company. BP was obama's largest oil (FINANCIAL) suporter when that muslim ran for the presidency. Obama is a CROOK! You good folks just watch...obama wil do NOTHING!

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

      He won't slap BP ?? HUH? Let's see the government already started the process to change the CAP on damages put in place by Cheney and Bush. Sounds like a smack to me.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      and Rachel? be careful. Your prejudice is showing all what you are really like. You and some others are trying to turn this country into a hate filled Nation and personally, I am tired of people like you trying to drag this country backwards 100 years.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Brian, the caps were set by a law enacted in 1990 (hope you had fun blaming Bush and Cheney for them). 1990 was under Bush 41. Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama have all had time to change the law, yet none of them did. Not exactly the partisan issue you'd like it to be.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. LL

    So now we all want "big government" to save the day, lead by the magical powers of the POTUS. What do we want our saviors in D.C. to do? Navy walls off the coast from Belize to S. Carolina? Just in time for hurricane season. Send a secret DOD oil-plugging team into the depths while pistol-whipping BP engineers for the apparent incompetence. "17" countries want to help?–I think BP staff alone represents more than 17 countries. Obama's Katrina? Sorry, a storm and an oil spill are not comparable even for lame provocative writing and sound bites. When did Bush even say "Katrina" out loud to the people–5, 6 days after the storm. After 100s where dead and dying? That's it, send in Blackwater! They can fix anything. Remotely-triggered plug devices that may have had some effect to stop the leak after the platform collapse were deemed "too expensive" by oil folks and the MMS killed the effort for retrofitting all rigs in 2003. Clinton-era effort originally. Mandatory world-wide. Except in US. Big gov., small gov., less control, less money, more control, more money. Really. Is there a "My America" comic book I should be reading? Obama "makes no sense?" That's appropriate 'cause neither do most people in the US. Obama should step down? Totally-Joe Biden would have had this thing locked like two weeks ago–yesterday's news, a slam-dunk! Like Nixon to Ford, total magical government! Yeah! The leak will get plugged, eventually. 10s of 1000s (at least) of peoples lives will be disrupted and/ruined. 100s of 1000s (at least) of marine life will perish. The "clean up" will take a decade on the short end. And long before then, drilling will resume. At least there hasn't been an arbitrary price gauging "F.U.!" courtesy gulf oil interests and a compliant POTUS (a la 2 days after Katrina), that's new–so filler up! It's Magic.

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

      LL.............say what you want. obama is a CROOK in the pockets of BP. That is pure & simple. BP was obama's number ONE financial contributor when he ran for the presidency. What a failure obama is and has been.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RetVet2wars

    All four of you make me sick!! David, John, Candy & Gloria, what have the four of you done? What suggestion have you made? What have you cleaned? 1 yr 6 mons you say, so Pres Obama should have fix all of Americas problems by now. In case all of you were under a ROCK, tell me what president has had to deal with what he has. The fact that the man can still get his thoughts together is a miracle with all that is on his shoulders. You act like all he has to do is this one thing. Why do you want so much from this man. Did you ask this of Bush? If all it takes is 1 yr or so then Bush could have fix the financial problems before he left office and the economy. He had a whole year and a half, no wait things started to fall in 2006, he had two years. Why didn't HE fix everything before he left office? These polls Gloria keep talking about, what people and where did the poll come from. How many people were polled. No body ask me!!! If you are going to say what I think and how I feel (am a voting American, therefore I am one of the people), then you must poll me and about 90 % of the American People before you can say THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WANT-–. You news people should be fined each and every time you tell a lie or over state something just for the effect for ratings. Do you ever think about the hundreds of Military and Civilian people that are risking their lives trying to clean up and stop this thing or do they mean nothing. So when you say "they are not doing enough", just who do you think you are talking about. It is so easy to put people down when you are sitting on your A**!!!!!!!!!!

    May 27, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      well said

      May 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      RetVet2wars.....your boy is a CROOK! Pure & simple. He, UNFORTUNATELY is the president. If you endured two wars (in the combat zone now......none of this REMF stuff) as you say you did, then you know obama hasn't the skills of an E 2 who just graduated frm PLDC!

      May 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus68

      You had me until you said "tell me what president has had to deal with what he has." Bush II had 9/11, Katrina, Saddam, bank/housing crisis, and a hoard of other issues, Clinton had... hmmm... Oh yeah, base closures and teh attack on the USS Cole (that he did NOTHING about. Reagan had the start of terrorism and economy clean up from Carter, Carter had Beruit and early start of world terrorism, Nixon, Kennedy, and Johnson had Cuba, Vietnam, and the cold war. And that was just in the last 50 years. Point is that every American President has his fair share of glory AND problems. Welcome to the Presidency Barrack!

      May 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • soultraveler

      Being a war vet myself, I have to tell you, the last 4 or 5 wars have been political and empire building. There's not anything we can do but we sit on our A***** and scream or have you some way of changing the totally braindead people that run this country and have been running it into the ground for the last 30 years. As an individual we are nothing, together we can stop it. 'Why do we keep putting the same people in office when they are determined to destroy our way of life?
      Yes in our frustration we blame our leaders, "THAT BECAUSE THEY CAUSE THE CHAOS AND WARS ETC"
      They are stupid people with hardly any intelligence. How we allow braindead low IQ people to run us and our country
      is beyond sanity. This is not theory, but fact and it is our legacy to hand over to our decendants.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steven

    What's sad is that we'll probably vote him out of office and get a republican who will baby the oil companies like always and we'll be back to square one. He's our only chance at clean energy, if it doesn't happen soon it never will and then everyone will whine when gas is $7 a gallon.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Steven........God I hope you're right. "ANY" Republican would be a welcome change right now. Incidentally, speakng of change.......after almost two years of this bimbo in office, how's that ......HOPE-Y – CHANGE-Y......stuff going for you? Ask the guys who are trying to support a family who were "PROMISED" jobs how it is going for them while you're at it! I know how it's going for me!!!

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

      Hey Rach when exactly did you say you were heading down to LA to help with beach clean up? Oh that's right you are too busy trying to build hate in this country.

      May 27, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. daniel t

    I think we should have another press conference and investigation and trip to prove this so called leak.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Marcus68

    Obama sounds just like Bush after Katrina! Diffence wa sthat Katrina was bush's fault and the oil splill was bush's fault too. At least that is what Gibbs says. lol

    May 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
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