Gov't says it's prepared for worst in oil spill

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, center, accompanied by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, right, and Rear Admiral Sally Brice-O'Hara, speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington Thursday, April 29, 2010. / AP photo

WASHINGTON (AP) " The Obama administration pledged an all-out response Thursday to the massive oil spill now expected to reach the Gulf Coast within a day and dispatched top officials to the region to help coordinate defenses against the potential environmental disaster.

"We are being very aggressive and we are prepared for the worst case," Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sally Brice O'Hare said at the White House. Federal officials announced inspections would begin immediately of all oil rigs in the Gulf and subpoena powers would be used in the gathering investigation. But the priority was to support the oil company BP PLC in employing booms, skimmers, chemical dispersants and controlled burns to fight the oil surging from the seabed.

The administration rejected suggestions that the federal government was slow to act in dealing with the spill and expressed frustration with BP's inability to seal the ruptured well head. The government approved the start of drilling for a relief well and was considering approving a second one as industry and government officials worked on multiple fronts to contain the slick.

O'Hare said officials expected the leading edge of the spill to reach the Mississippi Delta sometime on Friday. Workers were racing from six staging areas to deploy more booms to try to hold off the slick and protect sea life and fragile wetlands. Winds and sea conditions Thursday prevented another controlled burn of the kind tried successfully a day earlier with a small test section of the slick.

Top Homeland Security, Interior and Environmental Protection Agency officials were going to the region. Officials emphasized at a White House briefing that all costs of the defense and recovery will ultimately fall on the industry, not taxpayers.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Read President Obama's remarks about this made at the White House Rose Garden.

Read a complete transcript of today's White House press briefing.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Read earlier version below.

WASHINGTON (AP) " President Barack Obama is stepping up the government's response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill by sending three Cabinet members to oversee the effort.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration also may send military ships and personnel to help control damage from the spill.

Joining Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at the site will be Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and environmental protection administrator Lisa Jackson.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Read earlier version below.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- It's going from bad to worse at the site of a sunken oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast.

The Coast Guard says five times more oil a day than previously believed is spewing into the Gulf from the blown-out well 5,000 feet down. The Coast Guard says it's a new leak. The company trying to contain the spill disputes the figures.

Rear Adm. Mary Landry says that 5,000 barrels a day is now estimated to be leaking. Officials had been saying for days that it was 1,000 barrels a day.

She also says the Secretary of Homeland Security has briefed the president on this new information. She says the government has offered to have the Department of Defense help contain the spill.

Officials say the leading edge of the oil is nearing the Louisiana coast.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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