Obama Visits Louisiana to Assess Oil Spill

Posted May 2, 2010 at 11:43am

President Barack Obama will be in Louisiana on Sunday for an update on last week’s Gulf oil spill — a disaster on scale with the largest oil spills in history — the White House announced early Sunday.

Obama will fly into New Orleans at 12:30 p.m. Central time and head into a closed meeting at the Venice Coast Guard Center to assess the response to the disaster, according to pool reports. The incident was sparked by an April 20 explosion on one of BP’s exploratory rigs. The rate of the leak has been estimated at 1,000 to 5,000 barrels per day.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Friday that Admiral Thad Allen, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, will oversee the coordinated response to the spill. Allen said in a Saturday conference call that while weather will play a crucial role in how rapidly the oil slick spreads, it is all but certain that oil will hit the shorelines of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

“There’s enough oil out there … to assume it’s going to impact the shoreline. The real question is when and where,” he said.

But Allen also said officials have already had “pretty good success” in cleaning up oil at the surface when weather has permitted. It has also been “a real positive sign in and of itself” that BP has worked with the private sector to come up with ideas to stem the oil leaking from the pipes, he said.