President Obama: 'BP is responsible for this horrific disaster'
President Obama just began his news conference and offered an aggressive push to focus attention on BP and to counter criticism his administration has not acted fast or decisively enough.
Those who assert that, he said, "don't know the facts."
"Every day I see this leak continue I am angry and frustrated as well," the president said from the White House East Room, adding his primary concern is the safety and livelihood of residents of the Gulf Coast.
"As far as I'm concerned, BP is responsible for this horrific disaster," he said. "We will demand they pay every dime they owe for the damage they have done. But make no mistake ... BP is acting at our direction."Obama reiterated his view that drilling must be part of the energy policy but added, "all drilling must be safe." He detailed plans (see earlier Buzz post today) to scale back offshore drilling, including some plans for the Gulf of Mexico.
"More than anything else this economic and environmental tragedy underscores the need for this nation to develop clean, renewable sources of energy," he said.
He was asked to respond to comparisons that this is his "Katrina."
"I’m confident people are going to look back and say that this administration was on top of what was an unprecedented crisis."
Mistakes were acknowledged. Obama said he had not put enough urgency into cleaning up widespread ethical problems with the agency that regulates the oil industry. And he said the government did not do a good job determining the extent of the oil gushing from the seafloor.
"It's fair to say they want this thing capped as badly as anybody else," Obama said of BP. But "it's a legitimate concern to question whether BP's interest in being fully forthcoming about the extent of the damage is aligned with the public."