The Obama administration would finally appear to be waking up to the wave of anger over its slow reaction to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This week the President is set to turn up the heat on British Petroleum (BP) over the question of compensation. He also made his fourth trip to the worst-affected areas along the Gulf, this time in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
Over the weekend, the White House joined with a growing public clamour for BP to set up an escrow account to provide compensation for the clean-up and to those affected by the slick.
On Sunday, David Axelrod, senior White House strategist, said on the NBC channel, “We want to make sure that money is escrowed for the legitimate claims that are going to be and are being made by businesses down in the gulf — people who have been damaged by this.”
Mr. Axelrod added that the administration wanted to ensure that the money would be independently administered so those who have suffered losses and would not be “slow-walked on these claims”.
According to reports quoting administration officials Mr. Obama will, in a speech from the Oval Office on Tuesday, outline a plan to legally compel BP to create an escrow account to compensate businesses and individuals for their losses.
Additionally the New York Times reported that White House officials were researching what legal authority the President had to compel BP to set aside money for claims, based on the 1990 Oil Pollution Act.
Last week in a conversation with British Prime Minister David Cameron Mr. Obama noted that “BP must do all it can to respond effectively to the situation.” The White House had also warned BP that it had until the end of the weekend to speed up efforts to contain the oil spill.
The spill has so far seen over 1.7 million gallons of oil polluting the Gulf daily. Ever since the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and killed 11 workers in late April, there have been increasingly vociferous calls for President Obama to stop being soft on the oil major.
While BP has accepted responsibility for the massive leak it has failed to halt the flow thus far and has also been slow to come up with funds for compensation for environmental damage and loss of incomes along the Gulf coastline.