This morning the President spoke on the news from the Gulf, emphasizing that while there may be good news, the work is not done containing the leak, and will not be until the relief wells are finished and functioning. After his opening remarks where he explained exactly what is happening, he was asked what his message for the people in the Gulf region would be:
Well, I would expect that sometime in the next several weeks I’ll be back down. What we’re trying to do right now is to make sure that the technical folks on the ground are making the best possible decisions to shut this well down as quickly as possible, that we’re standing up the fund so that people are compensated quickly. I’m staying in touch each and every day, monitoring the progress and getting briefed by the scientists.
The key here right now is for us to make decisions based on science, based on what’s best for the people of the Gulf — not based on PR, not based on politics. And that’s part of the reason why I wanted to speak this morning, because I know that there were a lot of reports coming out in the media that seemed to indicate, well, maybe this thing is done. We won’t be done until we actually know that we’ve killed the well and that we have a permanent solution in place. We’re moving in that direction, but I don’t want us to get too far ahead of ourselves.
His opening remarks with a little more detail below:
I wanted to give everyone a quick update on the situation in the Gulf. As we all know, a new cap was fitted over the BP oil well earlier this week. This larger more sophisticated cap was designed to give us greater control over the oil flow as we complete the relief wells that are necessary to stop the leak.
Now, our scientists and outside experts have met through the night and continue this morning to analyze the data from the well integrity test. What they’re working to determine is whether we can safely shut in the well using the new cap without creating new problems, including possibly countless new oil leaks in the sea floor.
Now, even if a shut-in is not possible, this new cap and the additional equipment being placed in the Gulf will be able to contain up to 80,000 barrels a day, which should allow us to capture nearly all the oil until the well is killed. It’s important to remember that prior to installation of this new cap, we were collecting on average about 25,000 barrels a day.
For almost 90 days of this environmental disaster, all of us have taken hope in the image of clean water instead of oil spewing in the Gulf. But it is our responsibility to make sure that we’re taking a prudent course of action and not simply looking for a short-term solution that could lead to even greater problems down the road.
So to summarize, the new cap is good news. Either we will be able to stop the flow, or we will be able to use it to capture almost all of the oil until the relief well is done. But we’re not going to know for certain which approach makes sense until additional data is in. And all the American people should rest assured that all of these decisions will be based on the science and what’s best for the people of the Gulf.