Obama Says Oil Spill Damage Could Be Unprecedented President Obama traveled to Louisiana Sunday to assure coastal residents that the government is doing all it can to control the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He had little good news to offer, though. Oil continues to flow out of control from a wellhead nearly a mile below the surface of the Gulf, and Obama warned it could keep flowing for a long time.
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Obama Says Oil Spill Damage Could Be Unprecedented

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Obama Says Oil Spill Damage Could Be Unprecedented

Obama Says Oil Spill Damage Could Be Unprecedented

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Here's NPR's Scott Horsley.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Oil continues to flow out of control from a wellhead nearly a mile below the surface of the gulf, and Mr. Obama warned it could keep flowing for a long time.

INSKEEP: I think the American people are now aware, certainly the folks down in the gulf are aware, that we're dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.

HORSLEY: Rain began to fall just as Mr. Obama stepped to the microphone in front of a shiny, white Coast Guard cutter. It quickly turned into a heavy shower.

INSKEEP: I just want to point out, I was told it was drizzling out here.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

INSKEEP: Is this Louisiana drizzle right here?

HORSLEY: Even when they discovered oil was leaking, they underestimated the amount. Nine days passed before Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declared this spill nationally significant. But Napolitano insisted yesterday, on "Meet the Press," the government was at full throttle all along.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")

INSKEEP: The physical response on the ground has been, from day one, as if this could be a catastrophic failure.

HORSLEY: But that response has not prevented the oil from threatening sensitive shoreline not only in Louisiana but Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and beyond.

INSKEEP: In a meeting with Louisianan fishermen, President Obama talked about setting up a process to handle the damage claims against BP that are now inevitable. I don't want to sugarcoat this, the president said.

INSKEEP: I've heard already that people are understandably frustrated and frightened, especially because the people of this region have been through worse disasters than anybody should have to bear. But every American affected by this spill should know this: Your government will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to stop this crisis.

HORSLEY: The president won some points just by showing up. As his motorcade snaked past oil refineries and seafood stands, supporters stood along the roadside, waving.

A: Scott Horsley, NPR News.

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