[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/06/15/obama.speech/story.obama.gulf.afp.gi.jpg caption="Pres. Obama made his fourth visit to the Gulf this week." width=300 height=169]
Tonight Pres. Obama outlined his administration's efforts to tackle America's worst environmental disaster - the Gulf oil spill. It was his first prime-time television address to the nation from the Oval Office. It came just hours after he returned from a two-day visit to the Gulf.
"The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years," Pres. Obama said tonight. "But make no mistake: we will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever's necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy," he added.
Pres. Obama said his administration directed BP to mobilize additional equipment to the Gulf. "In the coming days and weeks, these efforts should capture up to 90% of the oil leaking out of the well," he said. The President stressed the leak won't stop completely until BP finishes drilling a relief well later this summer.
When Pres. Obama meets with BP CEO Tony Hayward tomorrow at the White House he said he will tell him the company must set aside "whatever resources... 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. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent, third party," Pres. Obama said.
Tonight on 360°, we'll talk about all these developments with Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, former presidential adviser David Gergen and New Orleans Radio Host Garland Robinette. Did they hear what they wanted from Pres. Obama?
What Pres. Obama did not mention in his address to the nation is the new estimate from government scientists who now say between 35,000 to 60,000 barrels per day could be leaking into the Gulf. Just last week the estimate was 20,000 to 40,000 barrels per day. In BP's Spill and Response Plan filed with the inadequate government agency, the Mineral Management Service, it said it could handle a spill of 250,000 barrels a day. Keeping Them Honest, that's obviously not true. They haven't even been able to handle what's now estimated to be up to a 60,000 barrels a day spill. We'll be digging deeper on all this tonight.
There's also the controversy over BP's plan to protect walruses in the Gulf of Mexico. You read that right: Walruses. The thing is there are no walruses in the region.
The whole thing just makes you wonder who has oversight over these oil companies? How can they even file such insane plans? Well, the Mineral Management Service is supposed to be doing that job. Tonight we're adding the agency to our list of "Culprits of the Catastrophe." David Mattingly reports on how the MMS has a history of misconduct. Even in his address to the nation tonight Pres. Obama said "this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility – a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves." Tonight Pres. Obama announced new leadership at the agency. We'll tell you who he's picked to act as "the oil industry's watchdog - not its partner."
Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then.
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