In a press conference early this afternoon, government and state leaders along with BP spoke of the dire consequences possible to the Gulf Coast and the impact the oil spill coming from the oil rig explosion on April 20 would have on the U.S. and world economy.
30% of the nation's energy is delivered from drilling in the Gulf. Furthermore the consequences could impact oil and gas companies around the world.
Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, emphasized the state of emergency in Louisiana and the coordination of state agencies. He underlined the responsibility of protecting individuals and businesses, especially fisheries on the coast. Jindal said if BP is unable to protect the Gulf sufficiently, various government agencies are said to be ready to respond and involved in coordinating efforts to stop the spill and prevent it from destroying protected wetlands, wildlife and fisheries.
Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, reported her flight over the area and emphasized again BP's requirement to fund the cleanup efforts and to leverage additional funds and mobilization of resources. She said, "We're here to ensure resources are used wisely." She also said the government is using every single resource available and has planned for the worst case scenario.
Secretary Napolitano went on to detail how the government, including her office and that of the President, began the process of response immediately after the explosion, first in trying to rescue the 11 missing workers, before having to stop those efforts when they were finally assumed dead. She called the crisis in the Gulf to be a "spill of national significance" that will require official response across the government.
The process of intervention in the oil spill event is said to be coordinated across the major areas of government, including the Departments of the Interior, Defense, and Homeland Security. The Secretary of Defense has dispatched C130 aircraft to the Gulf. The Navy has sent boom and personnel. Secretary Napolitano went on to conclude, "We will continue to engage BP in doing everything it can to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf and to respond appropriately to cleanup efforts."
Kenneth Salazar, Secretary of the Department of the Interior, said the response team, as a whole, has a "long ways to go, but we are doing everything we can responsibly do and have since the oil rig explosion." He went on to assure people everything in the government's power has been and will be done and that "we will not rest" until BP has cleaned up and used the resources to fight this."
Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency called the oil spill and the potential of harm to individuals and businesses a "human tragedy" and that "our hearts go out to the people affected by this. Air sampling began yesterday and water sampling begins today.
BP is said to be spending $6 million to $7 million daily on the efforts to contain the spill and the cost will increase as the oil reaches the coast. They said they are involving oil and gas companies around the world in providing ideas and resources directed to cleanup efforts.
Admiral Landry said today the Unified Command has considered planning to be for "the worst case scenario." She had said at a press conference Wednesday, calling the oil spill catastrophic was not a word she would use, but instead "a very serious situation."
Experts say weather continues to be a challenge for oil cleanup efforts.
Government spokesmen today said drilling for oil will continue until "we learn otherwise."