News / USA

Obama to Face Media on Gulf Oil Disaster

When he goes before reporters on Thursday at a White House news conference, President Obama will face tough questions about his administration's handling of the deep sea oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. It will be the president's first news conference since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank in April.

The president has been under intense pressure from critics, on the right the left of the political spectrum, and from the media over steps taken to deal with the Gulf situation, and the pressure his administration has placed on BP to deal with the leak.

Hard questions are being asked about what comes next, what President Obama will do if the leak cannot be stopped, and what will be done even if it is, to try to prevent a recurrence and strengthen offshore drilling regulation.

The president, who will make his second visit to the Gulf area on Friday, made these remarks on Wednesday in California before heading back to Washington.  "Let me reiterate, we will not rest until this well is shut, the environment is repaired and cleanup is complete," he said.

For several weeks, President Obama and his advisers have also sought to focus the attention of the media on what the administration has done to enlist the best scientific and engineering minds to work on the problem and avoid future catastrophes.

The question of what the government will do going forward was addressed earlier this week by the now former U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, who has been retained by the president as the point person overseeing the government's overall response.

Admiral Allen was asked about what will be done to compare current U.S. oil drilling regulation with standards in other parts of the world. "I have asked my staff to take a look at other regulatory regimes around the world, and how certain countries treat the regulation and the inspections of blow out preventers and drilling systems," he said.

Examinations of international standards, he added, could take place under the International Maritime Organization, to which the U.S. is a signatory,  to compare current inspection procedures with those in force elsewhere.

Among questions asked repeatedly has been whether the Deepwater Horizon disaster will force a change in the president's decision to expand offshore drilling in coming years.  The government has already blocked for now issuance of final permits for new drilling activity.

Thursday's news conference will also coincide with delivery of a formal report to the president from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on what has been uncovered so far on the origins of the Gulf catastrophe.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs also pointed to an independent commission created by the president who he says is committed to a thorough review of all aspects of the situation. "Looking at both the role of industry and the role of government in regulating industry.  The president I think has been very clear that we should not spare any expense in looking at both of those aspects in what may or may not have caused this," he said.

A day before President Obama's news conference, angry lawmakers in a House of Representatives hearing confronted Interior Secretary Ken Salazar with questions about reports of weak enforcement and ethics violations by government offshore drilling inspectors.

Salazar underscored the government's commitment to hold BP accountable for all costs related to the oil leak, another issue expected to feature prominently in Thursday's news conference. "That means all response costs to this oil spill, which is their spill, it means all damages will be paid with respect to any impacts of natural resource, it means all costs related to the cleanup, and it means those who will be effected in the Gulf coast from an economic point of view will also receive compensation," he said.

Salazar made a point of noting that in several meetings with BP, the company in his words pledged not to "hide behind" a $75 million damage liability limit currently in force under U.S. law, which lawmakers intend to eliminate, a move the Obama administration supports.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs