Politics

BP Executives Finally Meet with President Obama, Make $20 Billion Escrow Account Agreement

 

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UPDATE at 1:15p.m. ET:

President Obama met face-to-face Wednesday morning with BP executives for the first time, a day after blasting the company and vowing to make them, "pay for the damage their company has caused."

The White House and BP have reached a preliminary agreement on putting $20 billion into an escrow account to cover clean-up and economic damages. The president is expected to make the announcement in the Rose Garden after the meeting.

BP Executives Tony Hayward, Carl Henric Svanberg and their legal counsels came to the White House for a meeting that comes almost sixty days after oil began gushing into the Gulf coast.

Kenneth Feinberg currently known as Obama's "pay-czar" will be the independent party to oversee the escrow fund.

The White House has provided a list of attendees at the meeting.

 

"When the President and Vice President went into the meeting, they were joined by Secretaries Napolitano, Salazar, Chu, Locke, and Solis as well as Attorney General Holder, Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, and Tracy Wareing, Counselor to Secretary Napolitano and coordinator for claims oversight," the White House said in a statement.

In his first Oval Office address to the nation Tuesday night, Obama previewed what he would talk about with the BP executives in today's meeting including talk of a fund to compensate workers and business owners.

"I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent, third party," Obama said.

The president also took the opportunity to address how the U.S. will move forward in improving the regulations of offshore drilling.

"One of the lessons we've learned from this spill is that we need better regulations better safety standards, and better enforcement when it comes to offshore drilling. But a larger lesson is that no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk. After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20% of the world's oil, but have less than 2% of the world's oil reserves. And that's part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean - because we're running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water."

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D) has been asking President Obama to lift the moratorium he and his administration have put in place on off shore drilling since the April accident on the Deepwater Horizon, saying the ban on off shore drilling will deeply hurt the gulf coast economy.

White House Energy Coordinator Carol Browner has said drilling will resume as soon as possible, but not yet.

"As soon as we have the answers and we can say to the American people that this can be done safely. We want those people to go back to work but we do not want to put lives at risk and we do not want to put our communities in the gulf coast at risk."

President Obama will make a statement after the conclusion of the meeting with BP later this afternoon.

Fox News' Kimberly Schwandt contributed to this report.