President Barack Obama on Thursday said he had directed his
to use all available resources to assist in stopping the spread of the
Coast oil leak.
Obama is also pressing officials to determine how the spill endangering the Gulf Coast happened.
Obama, speaking briefly on the matter in the Rose Garden, said he has ordered cabinet officials to the region to ensure British Petroleum is doing all it can to clean up the spill, stop the leak and find out what caused the oil rig explosion that led to the spill.
Obama and White House officials said they could look to the Defense Department for technologies that are not available commercially to clean up and stop the spill.
The administration will declare the spill an incident of “national significance,” allowing federal assets to be used to help clean up the spill and stop the leak.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made that announcement Thursday at the White House daily briefing, which was also attended by other administration officials.
The oil spill is expected to reach landfall in the Mississippi Delta Region by Friday afternoon.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs devoted the entire daily briefing to the spill. He and other officials said the administration is focused on the accident and downplayed any political impact it might have on Obama’s proposal to increase offshore drilling.
Obama spent the first 20 minutes of his daily intelligence briefing Thursday morning getting updates on the spill and the leak, and he has directed his administration to “aggressively confront this incident.”
Gibbs said Obama was briefed on the second leak while traveling Wednesday night on Air Force One, and he reached out Thursday to the five governors of the Gulf States.
While Napolitano, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar are being dispatched to the command centers in the region, Gibbs said he did not know if Obama would travel to the area.
Administration officials repeatedly stressed that BP is responsible for the
cost of cleaning up the spill because of a 1990 law put in place following the
catastrophic spill of the Exxon Juan Valdez in Alaska.
Napolitano and other officials refused to compare the current spill with the one in Alaska, but made it clear they are worried about the impact of the spill.
“We are being very aggressive, and we are prepared for the worst case,” said Rear Admiral of the United States Coast Guard Sally Brice O’Hare.
Officials and BP have had to suspend the controlled burning of surface oil
because of sea and wind conditions, officials said.
Gibbs said members of Congress from the region are getting daily briefs from administration officials.