He has been criticised for not showing enough emotion about the environmental disaster unfolding on America’s Gulf Coast. But, on his third trip to the oil-stained region, President Obama has been meeting those who have suffered most and speaking out in protest. His target: BP.
“There are reports that BP will be paying 10.5 billion dollars, that is billion with a ‘b’, in dividend payments,” said the President. “I want BP to be very clear they have got moral and legal obligations here in the Gulf for the damage that has been done.”
Obama has repeatedly vowed to hold BP accountable for the worst oil spill in US history. He says it is too early to judge whether its latest effort to halt the leak will be successful. The firm itself is confident that the containment cap it has put on top of the damaged wellhead will work.
But, as well as threatening a multi-billion dollar fishing industry, the six-week-old spill has caused much environmental damage. Dozens of oiled birds have been rescued from the waters off the Gulf coast, and thousands of others are at risk.
The impact looks to be spreading, with tar balls now beginning to wash up on the beaches of northwest Florida, the tourism-dependent “Sunshine State.”