News / USA

Obama Under Increased Pressure Over Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster

David Dyar

President Barack Obama is under more pressure regarding his administration's actions to deal with the month-long Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Much of Thursday's briefing by the president's spokesman was taken up with questions about the scope of the disaster and the response by BP.

With oil still spewing from the well some 1,500 meters under where the Deepwater Horizon rig once stood, the Obama administration continues to defend the measures it is taking in overseeing cleanup operations, and the pressure it is placing on BP.

Just as White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was beginning his briefing, U.S. television networks aired new video from BP, including a live feed from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, showing significant continuing flows.

Reporters pressed Gibbs, who weeks ago said the government intended to pressure BP to take action and investigate how forthcoming BP has been amid intense public and media demands for more information about the disaster and the clean up costs. "They are responsible.  They will get the bill; the taxpayers won't.  And it is being overseen by many elements of the federal government," he said.

Earlier, a BP spokesman said a long tube inserted into the leak is capturing about 800,000 liters of oil per day, an indication that the leak is much larger than previously estimated.  But BP has been siphoning oil from only one of two leaks.

On Capitol Hill, Massachusetts Democratic Representative Ed Markey referred to the underwater video of the leak and criticized BP, asserting that its estimate of leaking oil was far below the actual rate. "The 5,000 barrels [of oil] a day estimate that BP pushed all along, is dead wrong," he said.

Amid fears of widespread environmental damage, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered BP to use a less toxic form of chemical dispersants to help break up the oil.  

Heavy oil is now washing ashore in delicate marshland areas of Louisiana.  White House spokesman Gibbs said government officials are trying to determine how much oil is entering the Loop Current, which could carry it toward Florida and the Atlantic Ocean.

California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer asserted that BP efforts are not working and said the company was attempting to cover up the size of the spill.

Calling the notion of any coverup "ridiculous," Gibbs had this response when asked about efforts to deal with what he called a "catastrophic event": "You're talking about an incident that is 5,000 feet below the surface of the sea, for a well that is an additional four miles below that one mile surface [distance]," he said.

Amid escalating anger in Congress, Senator Boxer and fellow Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida referred to estimates by scientists that as much as 11 million liters of oil are leaking from the Gulf of Mexico each day.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs