On the rapidly worsening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. President Barack Obama said: “British Petroleum [BP] is ultimately responsible under the law for paying the costs of response and cleanup operations.”

But he urged “out of an abundance of caution and mindful of the new information,” that the U.S. should position its resources to “aggressively” confront this incident.

The Deepwater Horizon rig, operated by BP, sank on April 22 following an explosion that killed 11 workers. It has reportedly been leaking nearly 5,000 barrels a day, prompting fears that it could equal the environmentally devastating Exxon Valdez spill near Alaska in 1989.

And the President dispatched his Secretaries of Interior and Homeland Security and other officials to the Gulf Coast.

He said he expected their reports from the ground immediately.

Mr. Obama said there were five “staging areas” to protect sensitive shorelines. Approximately 1,900 federal personnel, more than 300 response vessels and aircraft were on the scene and approximately 217,000 feet of protective boom — a surface level barrier to contain the slick's spread — had been laid already, he said.

Response

The administration repeatedly underscored that it would hold the oil giant BP responsible rather than the taxpayer.

Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said, “We will continue to push BP to engage in the strongest response possible. We will continue to oversee their efforts, to add to those efforts where we deem necessary, and to ensure, again, that under the law, that the taxpayers of the United States ultimately are reimbursed for those efforts.”

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