Ed. Note: For more information on federal response resources, volunteer opportunities, and assistance for those in affected areas visit WhiteHouse.gov/Deepwater-BP-Oil-Spill.
In the first Oval Office address of his presidency, President Obama outlined his commitment to fighting the full impacts of the BP oil spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes.
Below is the latest in the ongoing Administration-wide response provided by the Joint Information Center.
Heidi Avery is White House Deputy Homeland Security Advisor
The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill
Prepared by the Joint Information Center
UPDATED June 15, 2010 7 PM
In the Past 24 Hours
The President Addresses the American People on the Ongoing Historic Response
In his first Oval Office address of his presidency, President Obama outlined his commitment to fighting the full impacts of the BP oil spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes.
Response to the Oil Spill
The President outlined the strength of the largest environmental cleanup effort in American history to confront what is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. From day one, the Obama Administration has been committed to containing the damage from the BP oil spill and extending to the people of the Gulf the help they need to confront what is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And we will continue to fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage that their company has caused our country. And we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.
Recovery and Restoration
The President announced that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus will develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan—designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists, and other Gulf residents. The administration continues to work with the affected states to implement creative approaches to their unique coastlines, and will offer whatever additional resources and assistance they may need.
The President is meeting tomorrow with the chairman of BP and will inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness. This fund will not be controlled by BP, but instead by an independent third party in order to ensure all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner.
Preventing Future Disasters
The President laid out the steps the administration is taking to ensure a disaster like this does not happen again—including the establishment of a National Commission to understand the causes of this disaster and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards need to be put in place; and tough reforms to ensure more effective oversight and end the close relationship between oil companies and the agency that regulates them.
Our Country’s Energy Future
The President stressed the need for urgent action to move forward with innovative energy policies that will ensure the end of America’s reliance on fossil fuels and a clean energy future. This Administration has taken unprecedented action to jumpstart the clean energy industry, and the President emphasized the need to match these actions by a comprehensive plan that transitions the United States to a 21st-century clean-energy economy—and committed to working with partners of both parties in Congress to get it done.
The President Announces His Selection to Fix Oil Industry Oversight
The President today announced his selection of former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Justice Department Inspector General Michael R. Bromwich to lead the administration’s efforts to accelerate reforms in the regulation and oversight of offshore oil drilling. Bromwich will oversee reforms of the Minerals Management Service, restoring integrity and rigor to the relationship between federal regulatory officials and oil companies.
President Obama Wraps Up His Fourth Trip to Gulf Coast
Continuing his fourth trip to the Gulf Coast, President Obama spent the morning in Florida, where he received a briefing from National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen and met with local officials to discuss efforts to fight the BP oil spill on Pensacola Beach.
Before returning to Washington, the President delivered remarks at an event with military personnel at the Naval Air Station Pensacola’s Naval Air Technical Training Center—discussing the overall response and the vital contributions of America’s military forces.
U.S. Scientific Team Draws on New Data, Multiple Scientific Methodologies to Reach Updated Estimate of Oil Flows from BP’s Well
Based on updated information and scientific assessments, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and Chair of the National Incident Command’s Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG) Dr. Marcia McNutt (Director of the U.S. Geological Survey) announced an improved estimate of how much oil is flowing from the leaking BP well.
Secretary Chu, Secretary Salazar, and Dr. McNutt convened a group of federal and independent scientists on Monday to discuss new analyses and data points obtained over the weekend to produce updated flow rate estimates. Working together, U.S. government and independent scientists estimate that the most likely flow rate of oil today is between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels per day. The improved estimate is based on more and better data that is now available and that helps increase the scientific confidence in the accuracy of the estimate.
At the Government’s Direction, BP Makes Progress in Expanding Containment Capacity
Under the federal government’s direction, BP is implementing multiple strategies to significantly expand the leak containment capabilities at the sea floor even beyond the upper level of the improved flow rate estimate. The Lower Marine Riser Package cap that is currently in place can capture up to 18,000 barrels of oil per day. BP is deploying a second containment option, called the Q4000, which could expand total leak containment capacity to 20,000-28,000 barrels per day. Overall, the leak containment strategy that BP was required by the federal government to develop projects an expanded containment capacity to 40,000-53,000 barrels per day by the end of June and 60,000-80,000 barrels per day by mid-July.
Admiral Allen Ensures Expedited Jones Act Waiver Processing Should It Be Needed
Admiral Allen announced the development of specific guidance to ensure accelerated processing of requests for Jones Act waivers should they be received as a part of the BP oil spill response. Currently, 15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved in cleanup efforts. No Jones Act waivers have been granted because none of these vessels have required such a waiver to conduct their operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
To date, the administration has leveraged assets and skills from numerous foreign countries and international organizations as part of this historic, all-hands-on-deck response, including Canada, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization and the European Union’s Monitoring and Information Centre.
Administration Convenes Oil Industry Executives to Assist Response Efforts
At the direction of the President, Secretary Salazar and Secretary Chu convened a meeting with oil industry executives to review BP’s updated containment plans and identify additional resources that could be brought to bear to build upon what is already the largest cleanup effort in the nation’s history. While the companies have already offered and provided expertise and resources, the meeting was an opportunity to update those efforts based on the expanded and accelerated containment plan that the government recently directed BP to develop.
EPA Holds Stakeholder Call on Environmental Justice Issues Related to BP Spill
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson joined other top EPA officials to participate in the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) public teleconference meeting to discuss the agency’s preparedness and response to the BP oil spill. NEJAC is EPA's independent advisory committee on environmental issues affecting underrepresented groups—with representatives from community, academia, industry, environmental, indigenous, as well as state, local, and tribal government groups—who meet to discuss how to define and find solutions to environmental justice problems.
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson Returns to Sea for Second Research Mission
Building upon research from its first mission and research from the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter, the 208-foot Thomas Jefferson today departed Galveston, Texas, to continue research on the BP oil spill’s impact on the Gulf of Mexico. During the three-week mission, the research vessel will collect air samples in the areas around the well head and use sophisticated acoustic and water chemistry monitoring instruments to detect and map submerged oil.
EPA Continues to Monitor Air, Water and Sediment Quality in the Gulf
According to the most recent sample data, the Environmental Protection Agency found elevated levels of nickel above benchmark levels for aquatic life. This might affect fish and shellfish exposed for an extended period. It is unlikely that the contamination resulted from the BP Spill.
The most recent sediment samples indicate that there may be risks to aquatic life from pollutants in sediment at some locations. It is unknown whether the sediment contamination resulted from the BP Spill or was already present. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/bpoilspill.
Admiral Allen Establishes Officials to Lead Response for Alabama, Mississippi and Florida
At the authorization of the President and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen has directed the establishment of three Deputy Incident Commanders to lead oil impact mitigation and cleanup efforts in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.
These officials will serve under the Mobile, Ala., Incident Command Post, which reports to the Unified Area Command based in Louisiana. Placing these Deputy Incident Commanders across affected Gulf Coast states will further increase the administration’s capabilities to coordinate closely with local governments and meet the needs of individual communities
NOAA and Coast Guard Seize Shrimp Taken from Closed Fishing Area in Gulf
As part of continued efforts to ensure the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico and protect consumers, NOAA and the Coast Guard today announced that approximately 19,000 pounds of shrimp caught in a closed fishing area 13 miles south of Belle Pass, La., was seized over the weekend as a result of a tip received on the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement Hotline.
To date, 78,264 square miles—approximately 32 percent—of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico have been closed to commercial and recreational fishing as a precautionary measure to ensure that seafood from the Gulf remains safe for consumers. The closed area does not apply to any state waters. Details can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/. Fisherman and consumers are encouraged to report potential seafood safety issues to (888) INFO-FDA.
Approved SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Surpass $3.9 Million
SBA has approved 66 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling more than $3.9 million for small businesses in the Gulf Coast impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 386 existing SBA disaster loans in the region, totaling more than $1.75 per month in payments. For information on assistance loans for affected businesses, visit the SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance, call (800) 659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Administration Continues to Oversee BP’s Claims Process
The administration will continue to hold the responsible parties accountable for repairing the damage, and repaying Americans who’ve suffered a financial loss as a result of the BP oil spill. BP reports that 54,400 claims have been opened, from which more than $70.3 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are 671 claims adjusters on the ground. To file a claim, visit www.bp.com/claims or call BP’s helpline at 1-800-440-0858. Those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP’s resolution can call the Coast Guard at (800) 280-7118. Additional information about the BP claims process and all available avenues of assistance can be found at www.disasterassistance.gov.
Administration Holds its Second Meeting with BP Claims Officials, in Mississippi
Federal officials met in Mississippi with state leadership and top BP claims officials to ensure that BP’s claims process is transparent, prompt, and responsive to the unique needs of the impacted communities citizens and businesses. The initial meeting was held in Louisiana late last week. Meetings for Alabama and Florida will be scheduled in the coming days.
President Signs Bill into Law Lifting Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund Spending Cap
The President signed into law an amendment to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to authorize advances from Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill—authorizing the Coast Guard to obtain multiple advances (up to $100 million each), with the total amount of all advances not to exceed the incident cap under current law ($1 billion), from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to underwrite federal response activities with regard to the discharge of oil that began in connection with the explosion on, and sinking of, the mobile offshore oil unit Deepwater Horizon.
By the Numbers to Date: