*With “Louisiana drizzle” dripping from his face, President Barack Obama on Sunday said there is no end in sight to BP’s 30-mile oil slick in the Gulf, and vowed that his administration will do all it can to address the disaster.
“The oil that is still leaking from the well could seriously damage the economy and the environment of our Gulf states and it could extend for a long time,” he said after a Coast Guard briefing in Venice, a Gulf Coast community serving as a staging area for the response. “It could jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who call this place home.” [Watch entire speech below.]
Obama, alongside Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, took a helicopter ride over the water to view the spill caused by as much as 210,000 gallons of crude oil gushing into the Gulf each day. The badly damaged oil well is sending a widening and deadly slick toward delicate wetlands and wildlife.
“Because this leak is unique and unprecedented, it could take many days to stop,” Obama said during the press conference. “That’s why we’re also using every resource available to stop the oil from coming ashore and mitigating the damage it could cause.”
The president also made clear that well owner BP America will be required to pay for the cleanup.
“BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill,” said Obama. BP has since announced that it intends to pay for all expenses.
He also spent a large part of the press conference defending the administration’s response to the oil spill, which Republicans have begun labeling, “Obama’s Katrina.”
“After the explosion on the drilling rig, it began with an aggressive search-and-rescue effort to evacuate 115 people, including three badly injured,” Obama stated. “And my thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the 11 workers who have not yet — who have not been found.
“When the drill unit sank on Thursday, we immediately and intensely investigated by remotely operated vehicles the entire 5,000 feet of pipe that’s on the floor of the ocean,” Obama stated. “In that process, three leaks were identified, the most recent coming just last Wednesday evening. As Admiral Allen and Secretary Napolitano have made clear, we’ve made preparations from day one to stage equipment for a worse-case scenario. We immediately set up command center operations here in the Gulf and coordinated with all state and local governments. And the third breach was discovered on Wednesday.
“We already had by that time in position more than 70 vessels and hundreds of thousands of feet of boom. And I dispatched the Secretaries of the Interior and Homeland Security; the Administrator of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, who is here; my Assistant for Energy and Climate Change Policy; and the Administrator of NOAA to the Gulf Coast to ensure that we are doing whatever is required to respond to this event.
“So I want to emphasize, from day one we have prepared and planned for the worst, even as we hoped for the best. And while we have prepared and reacted aggressively, I’m not going to rest — and none of the gentlemen and women who are here are going to rest — or be satisfied until the leak is stopped at the source, the oil on the Gulf is contained and cleaned up, and the people of this region are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods.