News / USA

US Ready to Take Over Oil Response if BP Fails

U.S. officials and local leaders expressed frustration Sunday with the ongoing efforts to plug a leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico and prevent oil from damaging coastlines.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he does not have confidence in oil company BP's efforts to stop the leak and contain the oil.

He said the government is ready to take control of the operation if BP fails.

Governor Bobby Jindal of the southeastern state of Louisiana lashed out Sunday at BP and federal officials, saying he has not received the resources he requested to protect the state's coastline.

Jindal said the first wave of oil has reached 105 kilometers of coastline, and that as more oil approaches, his state has to take matters into its own hands.

The remarks came as BP announced it had captured only 1,300 barrels of oil Saturday through a suction pipe over one of the leaks.  That compares to the 2,000 barrels BP says it captured on Friday.

Salazar is set to join Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and a group of senators in Louisiana Monday to tour the area and meet with officials coordinating the response efforts.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told CBS "Face the Nation" Sunday that the Obama administration has "had problems with BP's lack of transparency" about the leak.

Gibbs said that the administration has sent a letter to BP asking the company for its most recent data on the environmental damage caused by the spill.

He said every part of the government has been activated to stop the massive oil leak, adding that the government "has not stood still" as some critics have claimed.

BP Managing Director Bob Dudley told CNN Sunday that BP has remained open about its efforts, but has been unable to measure how much oil is leaking.  He called the leak "catastrophic for every BP employee" and said there was no one more concerned with stopping the leak.

U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told CNN that the government is not treating the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico as anything less than catastrophic, but the government is forced to rely on BP to try to plug the leak.

BP's Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles has said if a planned attempt to plug the well with heavy mud fails, BP might not be able to stop the leak until a relief well is ready in early August.

On Saturday, U.S. President Barack Obama criticized the "cozy [close] relationship" between energy companies and the government agencies that monitor them.  Mr. Obama says regulators need to do more to prevent future spills.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, was headed to the Gulf Coast Sunday to monitor her agency's response.

Oil has reached the ecologically delicate marshlands along Louisiana's coast. Officials in the southern state say they might make sand levees to prevent oil from hitting land, but experts are not sure the plan will work.

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