WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama sought to reassure Americans on Monday that the Gulf Coast would “bounce back” from the worst oil spill in the nation's history, but not without time, effort and reimbursement from BP.
Surrounded by Cabinet members, Obama said that not only is he confident that the crisis will pass but also that the affected area “comes back even stronger than ever.”
The president and top federal officials were briefed on the government's battle against the spill by Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who is overseeing the government's efforts in dealing with the tragedy.
Allen earlier Monday told reporters that a cap on the damaged oil well is now keeping up to 462,000 gallons of oil a day from leaking into the Gulf. That's up from about 441,000 gallons on Saturday and about 250,000 on Friday.
“This will be contained,” Obama asserted. “It may take some time, and it's going to take a whole lot of effort. There is going to be damage done to the Gulf Coast, and there is going to be economic damages that we've got to make sure BP is responsible for and compensates people for.”
Obama said that government scientists and other experts confirmed that the capping device “is beginning to capture some of the oil. We are still trying to make a better determination as to how much it is capturing.”
But, Obama added, “even if we are successful in containing some or much of the oil” the problem wouldn't be solved until relief wells reach the area of the damaged well in several months.
“What is clear is that the economic impact of this disaster is going to be substantial and it is going to be ongoing,” Obama said.
“We also know that there's already a lot of oil that's been released, and that there's going to be more oil released no matter how successful this containment effort is,” he added.
The president has been speaking out on the disaster almost daily and has visited the Louisiana coast three times since the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers and unleashed the oil gusher.
He reiterated an appeal he made on Friday in the region that BP not “nickel and dime” Gulf coast residents and businesses that have filed claims against the London-based oil giant.
“‘We are going to insist that money flow quickly and in a timely basis,” Obama said.
Allen acknowledged at Monday's White House briefing that the company has struggled with handling claims.
He said we'd “like them to get better” at processing the claims and that a system for paying them should be “routinized” as soon as possible.