President Barack Obama will travel to the Louisiana Gulf Coast on Friday morning to assess the latest efforts to clean up the BP oil spill, the White House announced Tuesday.
The administration is scrambling to stay on offense as criticisms mount over the inability to contain the massive amounts of oil gushing from a broken pipe that lies 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. In a statement, White House officials touted their efforts thus far to stop the spill, which was sparked by an explosion on a BP oil rig on April 20.
“The administration has mobilized one of the largest responses to a catastrophic event in history, with more than 1,200 vessels in the region and more than 22,000 people, including many of the brightest scientific minds from both the public and private sector, working around the clock to mitigate the oil’s impact,” the statement reads.
Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who is directing the administration’s disaster response, said Monday that he sympathized with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s complaints about a lack of confidence in BP. On Monday, Salazar told reporters at a Houston press event that if BP doesn’t follow through with its responsibilities, administration officials are prepared to “push them out of the way.”
“I think Secretary Salazar is right. I think he’s probably exhibiting the immense amount of frustration we all feel,” Allen told reporters in a White House briefing. “As it stands right now, at least in my opinion, the means of production is in the hands of BP; they just need to do their job.”
Asked point blank why the cleanup effort is taking so long, Allen said, “It is very difficult. It’s 5,000 feet below the surface, and it’s never been done before.”