President Obama to Use 'Legal Authority' to Ensure BP Pays

During his gulf tour Monday, Obama promised residents the administration would do everything it can to strengthen offshore drilling regulations to prevent a similar disaster from ever happening again. He also pledged the full resources of the federal government to "make sure that communities get back on their feet," but cautioned that how long that will take remains unknown.

Obama's first address from the Oval Office demonstrates the gravity of the Gulf Coast crisis and the political perils the crisis poses for his presidency. More Americans disapprove of the federal response to the spill than disapproved of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

"I can take up the better part of your morning listing the crises that we've had to deal with," said Gibbs. "I don't think there's any doubt this is a tremendously important time. We're at an inflection point in this oil spill. The president understands the challenges and he'll lay out a direct and clear plan to meet them."

White House officials say the president will discuss details of the ongoing oil containment efforts, a plan to reorganize the Minerals and Management Services, which regulate oil companies drilling in the gulf, and an effort to push BP to create an escrow fund for those seeking damages from the company to be administered by an independent "master."

The president will also use the Oval Office address to show how the ongoing environmental catastrophe exemplifies the nation's need to pursue a clean energy future.

Obama is expected to discuss BP's substantial bill from the government, tallied in accordance with the Natural Resource Damage Assessments, an official says. The president intends to make sure that money is spent to restore the gulf to the healthy environmental standards it had pre-Hurricane Katrina.

"The president will discuss tonight what type of regulatory framework do we have going forward to ensure this type of accident never happens again," Gibbs said. "Failsafe has to mean that going forward."

Spill Continues as Cleanup Effort Broadens

"He's going to have a lot of eyes glued to the television set," Democratic strategist and "Good Morning America" consultant James Carville said of the president's address this evening. "I think he can hit this political reset button... I think he can eliminate the [political] damage."

"It's a complex problem, but he's got to show that he's on top of this thing, that there's a strategy in place and that there's a way to deal with this," Carville added.

Meanwhile, the leak continues despite a partial containment cap BP has placed on the well.

BP says it is planning to increase containment capacity, from siphoning 15,000 to 28,000 barrels per day of oil to as much as 50,000 barrels a day by the end of the month.

"What we have are physics problems," said Gibbs. "The top cap can only take so much, but they're adding additional lines…to bring more and more of that oil to the surface and out of the Gulf."

Twenty-three more miles of the Gulf Coast were closed for fishing yesterday as tar balls washed ashore and threatened sea life.

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos and Sunlen Miller contributed to this report.

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