Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Obama's anger over oil spill

President Barack Obama expressed his anger about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (AP)

Barack Obama has expressed anger about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and said he was convinced that British Petroleum has not moved quickly enough to respond to the largest spill in US history.

Using his strongest language to date on the massive spill, Mr Obama said: "I am furious at this entire situation, because this is an example where somebody didn't think through the consequences of their actions. This is imperiling an entire way of life and an entire region for potentially years."

In an interview for CNN's Larry King Live, Mr Obama said BP has felt his anger, but added that "venting and yelling at people" would not solve the problem. He added that he had not seen the kind of "rapid response" from BP that he would have liked.

Obama spoke as he planned his second visit in a week to the battered Gulf Coast, and the federal government sent BP a bill for 69 million US dollars (£47 million) to cover initial costs of responding to the spill, which has dumped at least 21 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, according to government estimates.

Facing questions over his administration's handling of the disaster, Obama said his return to Louisiana on Friday will be to assess the latest efforts to contain the massive leak and clean up the damage.

Meanwhile, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) stopped issuing permits for new oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, even as an administration official denied there was a formal freeze on drilling in shallow water.

"There is no moratorium on shallow water drilling," said Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for interior secretary Ken Salazar. "Shallow-water drilling may continue as long as oil and gas operations satisfy the environmental and safety requirements Secretary Salazar outlined in his report to the president and have exploration plans that meet those requirements."

Her comments appeared to contradict an email sent out by a top official in the Gulf Coast office of the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling.

Michael J. Saucier, regional supervisor of field operations for the MMS Gulf of Mexico region, told a company seeking a permit that "until further notice" no new drilling is being allowed in the gulf, regardless of the water depth.

The email came a day after the minerals agency granted a new drilling permit sought by Bandon Oil and Gas for a site about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast and 115 feet below the ocean surface. Environmental groups accused the administration of misleading the public by allowing work to resume in waters up to 500 feet deep while maintaining a moratorium on deep-water drilling.

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