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Obama Reaches Out from the La. Coast

President Barack Obama on Saturday sought to convey his concern for the people of the Gulf Coast while highlighting his administration’s multifaceted response to the economic and environmental consequences of the oil spill disaster.

Obama delivered his weekly radio address from Grand Isle, La.

On Friday, the president spent the day meeting with local officials, fishermen and other residents of the affected Gulf Coast region. In his radio address, Obama said: “These folks work hard. They meet their responsibilities. But now because of a man-made catastrophe – one that’s not their fault and that’s beyond their control – their lives have been thrown into turmoil.

“It’s brutally unfair. It’s wrong. And what I told these men and women – and what I have said since the beginning of this disaster – is that I’m going to stand with the people of the Gulf Coast until they are made whole,” Obama added.

Obama painted his administration’s efforts to address the disaster as proactive, saying: “From the beginning, we’ve mobilized on every front to contain and clean up this spill. I’ve authorized the deployment of 17,500 National Guard troops to aid in the response. More than 20,000 people are currently working around the clock to protect waters and coastlines. We’ve convened hundreds of top scientists and engineers from around the world.”

The president emphasized the administration’s efforts to hold BP accountable for the disaster, saying: “We’ve also ordered BP to pay economic injury claims, and we will make sure they pay every single dime owed to the people along the Gulf Coast. The Small Business Administration has stepped in to help businesses by approving loans and allowing deferrals of existing loan payments. And this week, the federal government sent BP a preliminary bill for $69 million to pay back American taxpayers for some of the costs of the response so far.”

Under pressure from environmentalists and other progressives to push new energy legislation and controls on the energy industry, Obama highlighted his decision to implement new controls on offshore drilling.

“We’re putting in place aggressive new operating standards for offshore drilling,” Obama said. “And I’ve appointed a bipartisan commission to look into the causes of this spill. If laws are inadequate, laws will be changed. If oversight was lacking, it will be strengthened. And if laws were broken, those responsible will be brought to justice.”

In the end, Obama used the speech to argue his administration will continue to advocate for the Gulf Coast communities affected by the spill, saying, “We will fight alongside them, until the awful damage that has been done is reversed, people are back on their feet, and the great natural bounty of the Gulf Coast is restored.”

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