Oil chiefs slammed by Obama over spill
Published 15/05/2010 | 05:00
PRESIDENT Obama roundly attacked what he called the "ridiculous spectacle" of oil industry officials pointing fingers of blame for the catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Mr Obama warned that the accident could bring devastation to the region and its economy. He also promised to end what he said was a "cosy relationship" between the oil industry and federal regulators.
As Mr Obama spoke in the White House's rose garden, undersea robots in the Gulf were being used in an attempt to thread a small tube into the jagged pipe that is spewing oil into the water.
The exploded well has already pumped out more than four million gallons of crude into the sea, threatening a massive ecological disaster.
Yesterday, BP engineers were desperately trying to move the six-inch tube into the leaking 21-inch pipe, known as a riser. The smaller tube was to be surrounded by a stopper to keep oil from leaking into the sea.
The intention is that the tube will then channel the oil to a tanker at the surface.
An emotional Mr Obama said that he shared the "anger and frustration" felt by many Americans.
He said his administration's response had "always been geared toward the possibility of a catastrophic event".
The Gulf spill is not just a potential environmental and economic nightmare. It is also a major political challenge for the president to demonstrate that his administration is doing everything it can to deal with the fallout.
Mr Obama slammed BP and other companies responsible for the spill for pointing fingers at each other, instead of accepting responsibility for the environmental and economic catastrophe that continues to unfold in the Gulf.
But he said responsibility also rested with the federal government, because oil-drilling permits had been granted without appropriate environmental reviews.
With millions of gallons of oil fouling the fragile Gulf ecosystem after a drilling rig exploded on April 20 and later sank, Mr Obama said: "It's pretty clear that the system failed and it failed badly."
He added that he would not be satisfied until the leak had stopped, the spill had been cleaned up and all claims paid.
Not long before the spill, the president had announced plans for a limited expansion of offshore oil drilling.
After the catastrophe, Mr Obama said those plans would be put on hold, pending a 30-day review of safety procedures on oil rigs and at wells.