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Oil spill: The government's response

By Ed O'Keefe


The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Southern Responder participating in cleanup activity in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Updated 2:42 p.m. ET
Despite today's focus on the response to the the April 20 Gulf Coast oil rig explosion, Obama administration officials stress that federal agencies have been involved since the start.

President Obama said Friday morning that his administration is doing "everything necessary" to respond. Officials have classified the situation as an "incident of national significance," officially defined as an event that requires a coordinated response to minimize damage, save lives and plan for long-term economic recovery. The government's National Response Team -- composed of 16 federal agencies and departments -- coordinates the federal response.

In that vein, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Energy and Climate Change Policy Assistant Carol Browner and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco plan to visit the Gulf Coast region Friday to oversee federal efforts. Napolitano and Salazar will appear jointly on several of the Sunday morning news shows, the White House said.

The government and BP Oil have deployed 1,178 people to the region to protect the Gulf Coast shoreline and wildlife, according to the White House. Officials have established five staging areas -- in Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., Venice, La., Pascagoula, Miss., and Theodore, Ala. -- to protect sensitive shorelines.

Here's more agency-specific information -- which will update as necessary:

U.S. COAST GUARD:
The Coast Guard and BP deployed 76 response vessels, including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts. They've also sent six fixed-wing aircraft, 11 helicopters, 10 remotely operated vehicles and two mobile offshore drilling units.

The public-private response is using 174,060 feet of boom to contain the spill with a total 265,460 feet ordered as of Friday morning.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Two C-130 Hercules cargo planes specially designed for aerial spraying have been sent to Mississippi and are awaiting orders to start dumping chemicals on the oil spill, a spokesman told the Associated Press. The Navy also has sent equipment for the cleanup.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY:
The agency is monitoring air quality in the region to measure the potential impact of the controlled burn of some of the oil.

Jackson said the agency will consult and consider “low tech” or “no tech” solutions for preserving the Gulf Coasts fragile ecosystem.

HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT:
Napolitano was the official who declared the spill an "incident of national significance."

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT:
The department deployed SWAT teams from the Minerals Management Service to inspect 30 drilling rigs operating in the deepwater sections of the Gulf of Mexico. Inspections should be completed within the next week, according to an Interior Department spokeswoman.

Inspectors will check to see whether the rigs have conducted blow-out preventer tests and inspect related records, the spokeswoman said. The teams will also verify that emergency well control exercises are taking place. Inspectors will then inspect 47 deep-water production platforms in the gulf, a process that will take longer than rig inspections because of the complexities of the structures.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT:
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Friday he is dispatching attorneys from multiple divisions of the Justice Department to New Orleans to meet with the U.S. attorney and response teams and to monitor the oil spill.

The team will be led by Ignacia S. Moreno, head of the environment and natural resources division and Tony West, head of the criminal division.

NOAA:
The agency is providing on-site support and predicting the oil spill's trajectory. The Office of Response and Restoration is the agency's biggest star, conducting overflight surveys to track the oil slick.

The National Weather Service is providing weather forecasts to the entire response team and NOAA is consulting the government and BP folks on the potential impact to fish, birds, marine mammals and sea turtles.

It's also using experimental satellite data to survey the marine pollution and will work on determining the full nature and extent of the damage to natural resources and the restoration work needed.

STATE DEPARTMENT:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that any future offshore drilling "can't be done at the risk of having to spend billions of dollars cleaning up these spills."

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 30, 2010; 10:38 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Agencies and Departments  
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Comments

Are the teabaggers going to do anything to get their beloved corporate leaders to clean up the mess they made? Or are they going to be big time hypocrites and demand Obama do something about it?

Posted by: swatkins1 | April 30, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

WaPo trying to cover for the Obama Admin per usual.

The spill happened April 20. 11 days later, and it is still worsening? I thought we were getting a President that could actually respond to disasters, not lolly gag while things get worse.

Posted by: dnara | April 30, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

CBC news in Canada (very left of center) has reported in the following video that:

BP downplayed how serious the spill was/is;

The techniques used to try and extinguish the fire resulted in the rig sinking thereby causing the rupture in the pipe;

The administration was slow to realize the seriousness of the situation;

http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/TV_Shows/Connect_with_Mark_Kelley/ID=1481308238

________

From the UK, the Times has also suggested that BP downplayed the severity of the Gulf oil spill and in an earlier article suggested a BP cover up.


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7112157.ece


Posted by: squirreled | April 30, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I find this oil spill WONDERFUL. It is a great summary of the Rep. side of the debate about staying with oil dependency and doing more drilling. I am also glad it is about to land on the soil of Rep. states. I also know that they "industries" effected by this will want government intervention and government money. Which the Rep. will want for "their" people. Just like farm subsidies. Rep. cry about government spending when they don't come up with the idea. Hope the oil destroys the coast line maybe then people will see the need for Green Energy.

Posted by: TheTruth25 | April 30, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

You People have no clue what this is going to do to our economy. I live in Pensacola, FL and have lived all my life. The only reason I stay here is because its the only part of the gulf that hasn't been raped. when will you people learn it's your own fault for not protesting oil drilling in the first place. All you wanted in the early 2000's was to get cheaper gas prices and now my home and life is the test tube that you people have used to make your pockets deeper.

Posted by: rallyart2012 | April 30, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse


don't forget, said in the brief speech:

BP is at fault.

Everything the could possibly be deployed has been deployed. Much better than Bush's Katrina.

There is no cover up in this. We know what we face in this oil spill.
Don't deny a another natural malfunction of equipment.
Don't EVEN make this sound like Obama's fault. Or any cover up.
If it was a cover up, he wouldn't be in the Rose Garden talking about it. (shades of Bush taking so long with Katrina)

This administration is all over this oil spill. Or would you rather have off shore drilling with faulty mechanics.

Don't you all have more brains?

And between this disaster and the disaster in Arizona, you best try to put on a happy face, because it is going to get worse.

Our entire Gulf Coast will be affected. Like Valdez. 35 years of evolution to correct it all.

So anyone "blaming" - blame the mechanics of BP And realize what this will do.

From Elway's 2 restaurants in Denver, to the Seafood Shop in the Hamptons.

Bye bye shrimp and oysters.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 30, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

It's safe to say BP's business is booming right now.

Posted by: awashingtonian1 | April 30, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

All of the U.S. is to blame. Not REP or DEM. you people can't see that our way of life here is worth more to us than just a political debate about who was right. This is our home. I'm not going to dump oil on the white house b/c of someones ideas. Its every persons problem.

Posted by: rallyart2012 | April 30, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

We let this happen. The people in the U.S. are to weak to stand together and fight for a common goal. Stop watching T.V. and complaining about what people you elected are doing. Ohhh ya it was Bush's brother who told the oil companies they couldn't drill off Florida's coast so Bush haters can suck it.

Posted by: rallyart2012 | April 30, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

How do you sheep know this wasn't an attack by terrorist

Posted by: rallyart2012 | April 30, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

nobody can stop the thousands of drugs coming to our shores how could they stop this if it was.

Posted by: rallyart2012 | April 30, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

you people put your faith in the lens of a camera and not in your fellow man. This is a problem that stems far deeper than your political beliefs

Posted by: rallyart2012 | April 30, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Does anybody not believe that Obama and/or his collaborators didn't wish this would happen? He will stoop to incredible depths to get his way and keep pushing for the elimination of State governments. The timing was just too convenient. This is going to be a very long and devistating 4 years.

Posted by: mark_mcgovern | April 30, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The constitution starts with WE THE PEOPLE. Not, I Obama. Stop blaming the people you put in office. Do Something besides compain about you political peers.

Posted by: rallyart2012 | April 30, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

The constitution starts with WE THE PEOPLE. Not, I Obama. Stop blaming the people you put in office. Do Something besides complain about your political peers.

Posted by: rallyart2012 | April 30, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

We should be talking about grouping together to solve the problem. Not complaining about what others are not doing. Grow up America and start putting our kids futures in our own hands, not others.

Posted by: rallyart2012 | April 30, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

"The government and BP Oil have deployed 1,178 people to the region to protect the Gulf Coast shoreline and wildlife, according to the White House."

Yep... one person per 8 metric tons of oil spilled and counting. But it's okay, TheBabeNemo says everything that could be done is being done. Listen up Babe, Obama wanted off-shore drilling just a few days ago... I won't forget that as easily as you already have.

Posted by: prokaryote | April 30, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

This is a disaster for the Gulf coast ecology and anyone who makes light of it or seeks gain from it politically is a heartless fascist or marxist and deserves total derision. This failure, whether mechanical/human error, sabotage or other demonstrates the risks and compromises we make as a society in order to enjoy our high standard of living. Since few are willing to give up the amenities of modern life, the question is not whether we will "drill, baby, drill" but what we can do in the future to prevent another oil rig disaster, coal mine explosion or nuclear power plant meltdown.

Posted by: wvm1963 | April 30, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

good post wvm1963 at least someone here has a heart.

Posted by: rallyart2012 | April 30, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Oil destroys our environment when we burn it and pump it into our atmosphere. Oil kills when we spill it into the ocean.

BAN OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING PERMANENTLY !!!

We need to get off of fossil fuels immediately and implement alternative energy solutions that don't involve toxic substances such as petroleum.

Only the greediest, coldest, and most calloused human beings could still be pro-fossil fuels given all of the damage to our planet that they cause.

Anyone who believes that offshore drilling should continue needs to go take a swim in the Gulf of Mexico....


Posted by: rogerdipaolo | April 30, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

20 years after the Exxon Valdez spill, studies show that residents are still showing signs of the psychological toll of the event.

I hope that list of resources deployed simply reflects that fact that the Federal Government can't respond until after local resources are exhausted, and not a sign that everyone is missing that there will be a real and lasting human impact from the spill.

Residents of the Gulf Coast are survivors one and all, but studies also show that individuals have fewer coping resources (therefore greater impact from disasters) when they've already been traumitized.

Slow motion disasters can be the hardest to keep from happening, but now is the time to start trying.

Posted by: Caoldn | April 30, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Gvie those Justice Department people some rags to clean up the beaches. It would be the first time any of them had done anything useful.

Posted by: jdonner2 | April 30, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Love the thought of a team of lawyers from Justice flying to the scene to monitor the oil spill. That just cracks me up. If they put on chemical suits and help clean of the birds, I will be impressed, but flying them there as part of the clean-up response just makes me giggle and this is not funny.

Posted by: DCSec112 | April 30, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

From the delay and reaction from Washington to the oil spill, is "Schoolbus" Nagin really in charge of the White House? Caoldn, are you one of the loons suffering psychological damage, or was it the koolaid you've been drinking?

Posted by: nmg3rln | April 30, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

From the delay and reaction from Washington to the oil spill, is "Schoolbus" Nagin really in charge of the White House? Caoldn, are you one of the loons suffering psychological damage, or was it the koolaid you've been drinking?

Posted by: nmg3rln | April 30, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Obama says the Interior Dept is sending SWAT Teams to inspect the other oil rigs! Is there a hostage situation or terrorists there? The Park Service has a SWAT Team, but there's no SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) Teams for this kind of duty. You'd think Obama Administration could be a little more clear...and nobody in the fawning media bothers to ask for clarification.

Posted by: philpost1 | April 30, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Sad that this happened and the response from everyone has been so slow

Where is BP? Why isn't BP bending over backwards to fix this quickly?

BP should foot the bill 100%

Posted by: Bious | April 30, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

As mentioned earlier, Politicians aren't to blame. The situation is only BPs and that is who will be paying. Wow, about time the oil company has to foot the bill. Even though they say 2000 barrells were estimated spilling out why didn't anyone hit the e-stop. With all this technology today you would think we would have a better way to have capped the leak.
I do have a feeling there was more to this than what people are being lead to believe.
What happened happened now lets use the resources we have and give the Billion dollar bill to BP. They have the money, can't take it with them when they pass on.

Posted by: cmherbi619 | April 30, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

I think people should stop blaming our president and start blaming the people who CAUSED this mess. & instead of arguing whos fault it is, you should be DOING something about it. Grow up. I'm straight out of college (20yrs old)and I have better sense on what is going on then some of you losers on here.

Posted by: foxxyroxy65 | April 30, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

It's taken 8 days for Obama to respond and he's sending lawyers??

And the question in everyone's minds... Will Obama blame Bush?

Posted by: wave41 | May 1, 2010 1:38 AM | Report abuse

This explosion was very wierd ocurring after the production casing had been cemented in place. Of course we'll never know what happened since the rig is on the ocean floor. First the coal mine explosion and now the oir rig explosion - it all seems a bit too weird to me.

Posted by: dpark1 | May 1, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe the right wing is actually trying to blame the spill impact on the president? Who would have thought that allowing the free market to handle its own problems wouldn't work out...

Hey Rightists, so now "big government" is the solution to the problem?

Why exactly is the US Government even responsible to do anything to correct a corporation's mistake? Oh the hypocrisy!

Posted by: NutmeggerYankee | May 1, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that we all have oppinions before the last fact is gathered and are so quick to judge the Right, the Left, or the Middle. Some are quick to want a king to manage it all, others are quick to blame the devastated ship's crew and its owners, others are willing to accept a random,"big bang theory" inspite of checks and balances in equipment and procedures. I'm just curious why we all want to expend energy blaming and lynching before the story is done...AND kudos to Sarah Palin for not giving an oppinion before she had the real facts ~ if we ever get them all.

Posted by: cobblestones | May 1, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

wvm1963,

Would you see the tiniest bit of irony in environmentalists sabotaging the rig to claim it is unsafe?

Posted by: gorak | May 2, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

The best solution to the problem of capping the source is to use gravity, specifically the weight of water. Large plastic bags, 20 x 20', of flexible dimensions, on the order of bean bags, constructed of heat resistant materials, could be employed to cap this gusher. The bags can be transported by the thousands to the site, then they can be filled with water and guided to create a tall containment area. Once the containment ring is in place, additional bags can be directed into the breach. Using this process, the gusher could be capped in no more than a couple of days. Many companies are available that can quickly manufacturer these simple devices.

Gare Henderson
Gravitational Systems Engineering, inc.
gare.henderson @ gmail.com

Posted by: garehenderson | May 2, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

To all of you who think oil and drilling is bad and who bad mouth the oil and coal industry... you are pathetic.

You don't complain about driving your cars, cooking on your gas stoves and grills, taking hot showers and bathes, leaving every light in your house on at night, flying to your favorite vacation spots on jets, running your power boats up and down the lake in the summer, etc.

You are all hypocrite fools.

You are all the same as the left wing liberals and your president Obama who says,"At some point, you've made enough money!", while he reaps in $5,000,000 dollars and yet only pays %20 in taxes.

Shut up fools!

Posted by: jeanmchambers | May 3, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

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