First of all, it's about time. This is the speech he should have given weeks ago; he's caused irreparable damage to his image by failing to address this earlier. The White House press corps understandably hammered him when it came time for questions, some even sounded agitated when they spoke. Obama admitted failures in verifying BP's information, particularly the 5,000 barrel estimate, "I think it took us too long to set up our flow tracking group that has since made more accurate estimates, but let me say that this did not change our response." But he stayed on message, which was essentially "We've known the gravity of this situation from day one, and it's been our highest priority. Mistakes have happened and will happen, but we're doing everything we can to stop this." Ultimately, he said: "It's my responsibility to shut this down."
He dissected questions, answering carefully and articulately. When asked if he regretted calling for expanded offshore drilling, he answered: "I continue to believe what I said at the time. I believe that oil continues to be a necessary part of our overall energy strategy. Where I was wrong, was when I believed that Big Oil had it together in terms of being prepared for the worst case scenario." Things took a turn when Helen Thomas abruptly changed the subject to Afghanistan ("And don't give us one of those Bushisms like 'If we don't go there, they'll come here.'")
As expected, Obama extended the moratorium of deep-water offshore drilling for six months.
As of 2006, the NOAA counted 3,858 oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico:
- 2006 NOAA File
At least according to Wikipedia, Independence Hub, at 7,920 ft (2,414 m) and 110 miles from the Mississippi River Delta is the deepest offshore drilling platform.
The Independence Hub is located in 8,000 feet (2,440 metres) of water in Mississippi Canyon 920 in the Gulf of Mexico. It is the largest offshore natural gas processing facility with the capacity to produce up to 1 billion cubic feet per day, or about 12 percent of total U.S. offshore Gulf gas production.
Meanwhile, the top kill on the Deepwater Horizon is only temporary fix that won't be confirmed until enough cement can be added to make it permanent. If it doesn't work, we'll need a solution that doesn't take months, or the Gulf of Mexico and Obama, despite his performance today, are supremely fucked. Hurricane season starts in six days, and scientists are predicting a particularly nasty one this year.