President Obama dispatched two top Cabinet officers to Louisiana on Thursday and said the federal government would "continue to use every available resource at our disposal" to contain a huge oil slick
threatening the coastline there.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, one of those tapped by Obama to get a handle on the situation, said the spill was a matter of "national significance," a designation freeing up federal aid from all regions of the country to combat it, the New York Times
"We will continue to push BP to engage in the strongest response possible," Napolitano said at a White House briefing. "We will continue to oversee those efforts, and add to those efforts where we deem necessary."
An explosion last week on a BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico left 11 workers missing and sunk the rig, disconnecting it from an oil well 5,000 feet below the surface. The amount of oil leaking from the uncapped well is now estimated at five times greater than first believed, the Times said.
Clean-up crews hope to contain the slick on the surface with controlled burning before it reaches the coastline, where it's feared the floating oil could cause extensive damage to willdlife, fisheries and beaches. But windy conditions Thursday delayed action on the plan.
Obama said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson are also going to Louisiana to help coordinate the effort and "ensure that BP and the entire U.S. government is doing everything possible." The president ordered inspections of other rigs and platforms in the Gulf, and said he would use resources of the Department of Defense if neceessary.
In late March, Obama said his administration would lift a decades old moratorium on offshore drilling
and consider leases for potential new areas of development off the mid and south Atlantic coast, parts of the Gulf, and Alaska. The announcement disappointed environmentalists.
, Gulf of Mexico
, Louisiana coast
, offshore oil rig
, water pollution