President Obama met with Cabinet members and senior staff in the White House Situation Room Monday for an update on efforts to stop the Gulf oil leak. Briefing the president were the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Admiral Thad W. Allen, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
The White House released a statement saying the president wants to make sure all is being done to contain the spread of oil and mitigate the environmental impact as well as provide assistance to those individuals and businesses that have been affected.
"The president impressed upon his team two things in the meeting today: first, the importance of engaging independent experts in the fields of science and technology; and, second, bringing every perspective to the table to identify potential solutions," the White House said.
President Obama has asked Energy Secretary Stephen Chu to lead a team of top administration officials and government scientists to Houston this week for an extensive dialogue with BP officials to continue to aggressively pursue potential solutions. White House officials will continue to head to the region this week to review the area. When he visited Louisiana May 2nd, the president made it clear that he expects BP to pay for all costs of stopping the spill and cleaning it up, and will pursue full compensation for damages. Even though he took a helicopter ride out to sea during that visit, he was unable to see the effects of the spill because of heavy winds.
Critics have charged both the federal government and BP were slow in dealing with the spill. On Tuesday Congress will grill BP executives in two Senate hearings on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers are expected to inquire why drilling plans didn’t take into account the risk of a pipeline burst, and why it assumed if a leak happened, the oil would not pose a large threat.
Also in Louisiana, the Coast Guard and Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service will be holding their own round of hearings looking into the explosion.
The White House released a list of principals participating in the meeting:
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
United States Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen (National Incident Commander for this event)
Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen
Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel
Assistant to the President for Homeland Security John Brennan
National Security Advisor General Jim Jones
EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe (Administrator Jackson is currently in Louisiana)
NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco
Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli
Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner
OMB Director Peter Orszag
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology John Holdren
DPC Chair Melody Barnes
CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley
Assistant to the President for Cabinet Affairs Chris Lu
The Associated Press contributed to this report.