U.S. President Barack Obama will return to the Louisiana coast on Friday, to review efforts to stop a catastrophic oil spill and contain the damage. It will be his third trip to the Gulf of Mexico region since the April 20 disaster, and his second in a week.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says the president will meet with Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is leading the government’s efforts in the region, among others. “I think the president will speak with individuals and business leaders likely that have been affected directly by the economic consequences of the spill, and continue to get from Admiral Allen a first-hand update on our progress, both in dealing with the well and in dealing with the spread of pollution that has leaked from the well,” he said.
Mr. Obama has been criticized for his trip to Louisiana last week, in which he was only seen speaking with government officials and visiting a beach which had been cleaned before he arrived.
He has also been blasted by commentators, some in his own party, who suggest he has not been reaching out to average Americans and should be reacting more emotionally to the disaster.
Spokesman Robert Gibbs dismisses those criticisms. He says the president’s response to the worst oil spill in U.S. history will be measured by results, not emotion. “If jumping up and down and screaming were to fix a hole in the ocean, we would have done that five or six weeks ago. We would have done that the first night. I think we are going to be judged, and the president is going to be judged, on our response and our recovery efforts to what we all know now is the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history. But pounding on a podium is not going to fix a hole in the ocean,” he said.
Gibbs says the president’s meetings with governors, lawmakers and local officials will prove helpful in finding a solution to the disaster. “The president believed it was a productive atmosphere in ensuring that everybody’s causes and concerns were heard and ultimately met,” he said.
The Obama administration Thursday sent BP and other responsible parties a bill for $69 million for the costs of the disaster. White House officials say more bills will follow.
BP Thursday used giant shears to cut off a pipe at the ocean’s bottom. The cut was crooked, which may complicate efforts to place a cap over the huge leak.
BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward says the company will clean up every drop of oil, and will restore the shoreline to its original state.