Federal officials pressure BP to speed up oil spill response


“We cannot rest and we will not rest until BP permanently seals the wellhead and until they clean up every drop of oil,” he added.

Napolitano said officials had urged BP to “leverage additional assets.”

Salazar and other officials also sought to preempt criticism of the federal response, repeatedly saying that multiple agencies – including the U.S. Coast Guard and Interior – have been fully engaged since “day one” of the unfolding disaster.

The Bush administration suffered major political damage when it was slow to respond to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, and Obama administration officials have sought to show the extent of their engagement in responding to last week’s rig explosion.

Napolitano noted, for instance, that Navy assets have been involved since “day one” and that today Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has approved a request for two C-130 aircraft to dispense oil-disperant chemicals.

Interior also provided more information about President Obama’s announcement earlier in the day that new oil-and-gas leases will not be issued without ensuring safeguards are in place.

Obama said that he had tasked Salazar with a “thorough review of this incident and report back to me in 30 days on what, if any, additional precautions and technologies should be required to prevent accidents like this from happening again.”

There are no federal lease sales scheduled in the 30 days he gave Salazar to report back to him, so Obama’s order has no immediate effect on new development.

Interior today announced formation of an Outer Continental Shelf Safety Oversight Board, which will provide recommendations “regarding interim measures that may enhance OCS safety and recommendations for improving and strengthening the Department’s overall management, regulation and oversight of OCS operations.”

Interior also announced that its Minerals Management Service is conducting immediate inspections of all 30 deepwater drilling rigs and 47 deepwater production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico – including checks to ensure that tests of “blowout preventers” have been completed.