With Obama in Louisiana Friday to assess the response to the BP oil spill, residents have strong views about what needs to happen next. But their ideas can conflict, and expectations are low.
Jae C. Hong/AP
Arriving in Louisiana Friday to counter increasing criticism of his handling of the BP oil rig disaster, President Obama will find few allies and low expectations in a region still stinging from the government's botched response to hurricane Katrina.
Mr. Obama, responding to criticism that his administration was too slow to act on the Deepwater Horizon disaster, declared at a White House press conference on Thursday that “the federal government is fully engaged, and I’m fully engaged.” Asserting that his administration was in charge of BP’s efforts to cap the gushing oil well and contain the spill, the president added that he should have pushed BP executives earlier to provide images of the leak and accurate measurements of the spill's size.
BP executives said for weeks that about 5,000 barrels of oil a day were gushing from the blown wellhead a mile below the Gulf of Mexico’s surface. Independent scientists estimated the spill at possibly more than 10 times that amount. The US Geological Survey reported Thursday that oil is leaking at two to four times the rate of BP's original figure. Under that scenario, the spill, which began drifting onto Louisiana beaches and wetlands last week, has surpassed the amount of oil dumped into Alaska's Prince William Sound by the Exxon Valdez in 1989 and threatens a huge swath of the Gulf Coast.
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