Jun 15, 2010 11:27 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5
President Barack Obama promised that life would return to normal for people living on the stricken Gulf Coast, and BP said by the end of the month it would contain more than three times as much oil spewing from a ruptured undersea well.
The pledges didn't placate some residents.
"I think that as long as BP is still in control, there's not a lot he can do other than show support for the residents of these Gulf states," Jennifer Jenkins, 34, of Long Beach, said of Obama.
The president headed to Florida on Tuesday after promising that life would return to normal for people on the stricken Gulf Coast.
Obama plans a national address later Tuesday on the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. On a trip to Mississippi and Alabama on Monday, he assured residents that the government will "leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before."
His trip coincided with BP announcing that it could trap a maximum of roughly 2.2 million gallons of oil daily by the end of June as it deploys additional containment efforts, including a system that could start burning off vast quantities as early as Tuesday.
It also came as documents revealed that BP made a series of money-saving shortcuts and blunders that dramatically increased the danger of a destructive spill from a well that an engineer ominously described as a "nightmare" just six days before the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
Investigators found that BP was badly behind schedule on the project and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars with each passing day, and responded by cutting corners in the well design, cementing and drilling mud efforts and the installation of key safety devices.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee released dozens of internal documents that outline several problems on the deep-sea rig in the days and weeks before the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers and set in motion the catastrophe. The committee has been investigating.
"Time after time, it appears that BP made decisions that increased the risk of a blowout to save the company time or expense. If this is what happened, BP's carelessness and complacency have inflicted a heavy toll on the Gulf, its inhabitants, and the workers on the rig," said Democratic Reps. Henry A. Waxman and Bart Stupak.
During the address from the Oval Office, Obama will announce new steps to restore the Gulf Coast ecosystem, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to upstage the president's announcements.
"I can't promise folks ... that the oil will be cleaned up overnight. It will not be," Obama said during a speech in Alabama. But, he added, "things are going to return to normal."
Residents, though, were skeptical that the economic and environmental destruction would improve any time soon.
Watching oil flow through Perdido Pass in Alabama's Gulf Coast, former Navy firefighter Clayton Ard said he wished Obama would break up the unified command responding to the crisis and let local governments handle it with more autonomy.
"It's just a huge bureaucracy that's slowing things down. ... We want to stop the oil now, but we can't do anything," Ard said.
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The breached well has dumped as much as 114 million gallons of oil into the Gulf under the worst-case scenario described by scientists - a rate of more than 2 million a day. BP has collected 5.6 million gallons of oil through its latest containment cap on top of the well, or about 630,000 gallons per day.
To trap more oil faster, BP would continue to siphon off the flow from a containment cap sitting above the well to a drill ship sitting on the ocean surface. More oil from the blowout preventer - a stack of pipes sitting on the seafloor - also would be drawn through hoses and pipes to a drilling rig where it will be burned using a specialized flare.
Still, BP warned its containment efforts could be hampered if hoses or pipes clog and as engineers struggle to run the complicated collection system.