A senior administration official tells Fox President Obama will in moments outline new permitting rules and procedures for offshore oil drilling for the Minerals and Management Service, the regulatory agency now under fire for laxity in dealing with the leaking Deepwater Horizon underwater rig and other offshore drilling projects.
Obama's remarks in the Rose Garden are scheduled for 11:50 a.m. EDT.
The official would not describe Obama's specific moves, except to say they will reflect a sped-up administration review of how MMS has been granting waivers for offshore oil and natural gas exploration.
Environmental groups have criticized MMS for giving the Deepwater Horizon a "categorical exclusion" from a environmental impact study of the operation or a serious assessment of its inherent risks. That exemption was granted 11 days before the underwater exploratory rig exploded.
MMS, part of the Interior Department, has also given a light regulatory touch to other offshore projects.
The administration official also said Obama will express public frustration with the blame-shifting now engaged in by BP, Transocean and Haliburton -- the three companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon rig. Transocean owned Deepwater Horizon, but it was being operated by British oil giant BP. Haliburton was a contractor on Deepwater Horizon and built a cement oil-well casing now implicated in the oil well leak.
In testimony earlier this week before a Senate panel, all three companies blamed the other for the widening environmental catastrophe in the Gulf.
The senior official told Fox Obama will say all three companies must be held responsible for the leak and do so in language that will be "quite tough."