President Barack Obama says the United States is "drawing on America's best minds and using the world's best technology" to meet grave environmental, health, and economic challenges of
the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: "We've deployed over 1,100 vessels, about 24,000 personnel, and more than two million total feet of boom to help contain it. And we're doing all we can to assist struggling fishermen, and the small businesses and communities that depend on them."
On April 20th, a series of explosions destroyed Deepwater Horizon, an oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico leased by British Petroleum [company]. Eleven persons were killed and seventeen others were injured. An immense quantity of oil began to pour into the waters of the Gulf about 64 kilometers from the Louisiana coast. The resulting oil slick reportedly covers a surface area of at least 6,500 square kilometers. Sealing the oil leak at a depth of more than 1,500 meters continues to pose serious technical challenges to those charged with the task.
From the first reports of the disaster, United States authorities, both civilian and military, were on site, working around the clock to mitigate the impact of the explosion. The United States Coast Guard searched by air and sea for eighty hours for the eleven platform workers and engineers who died in the initial explosions. Federal agencies are working with state authorities, private sector companies, and volunteers, to contain the spill and mitigate its harmful effects.
President Obama says those responsible for the disaster will be held accountable: "First and foremost, what led to this disaster was a breakdown of responsibility on the part of BP [British Petroleum] and perhaps others, including Transocean [oil drilling company] and Halliburton [oil services corporation]. And we will continue to hold the relevant companies accountable not only for being forthcoming and transparent about the facts surrounding the leak, but shutting it down, repairing the damage it does, and repaying Americans who've suffered financial loss."
President Obama signed an executive order establishing a bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. The commission is tasked with providing recommendations on how we can prevent and mitigate the impact of any future spills that result from offshore drilling.
Offshore drilling can play an important part in securing America's energy, said President Obama, but only "if we have assurances that a disaster like the BP oil spill will not happen again."