By Russell Berman - 06/05/10 10:00 AM EDT
President Barack Obama said his administration is “prepared for the
worst” in the Gulf Coast as he used his weekly address to outline the
government’s response to the massive oil spill.
Speaking from Grand Isle, La., the president said it appeared that BP was “making progress” in trying to pump oil to the Gulf surface from the cap it placed over the well this week. “But as has been the case since the beginning of this crisis,” Obama said, “we are prepared for the worst, even as we hope that BP’s efforts bring better news than we’ve received before.
Obama said his administration’s actions marked “the largest response to an environmental disaster of this kind in the history of our country.” The government has deployed 17,500 National Guard troops to the coast, laid down 4.3 million miles of boom and set up 17 separate staging areas in four states, he said.
As frustration has mounted over the failure to plug a well that has been gushing oil for more than six weeks, Obama has come under criticism for the government’s handling of the crisis. The White House has responded by making the president increasingly visible, and he made his second visit to the region in little more than a week on Friday.
In his address, Obama repeated pledges to make BP pay “every single dime owed to the people along the Gulf Coast.” He also told the stories of people he had met in the region whose lives have been upended by the crisis.
Citing a commission he appointed to investigate the spill, Obama also said the government would have a long-term response. “If laws are inadequate, laws will be changed,” the president said. “If oversight was lacking, it will be strengthened. And if laws were broken, those responsible will be brought to justice.”