Oil Spill Tries US-BP Relations

President Obama's Press Secretary is seeking to portray an image of government leadership over the BP oil spill, while at the same time giving the company's CEO a bit of a pass.

BP's Tony Hayward is reportedly returning to Britain for a board meeting and to celebrate his 54th birthday Thursday, just days after promising to stay in the United States until the massive leak is fixed.

Obama's Spokesman Robert Gibbs told White House reporters he's not so concerned. "I don't know that the CEO of BP being on a ship somewhere in the Gulf is gonna make a whole lot of difference."

Meanwhile, Gibbs outlined the government's attempt to remain committed to the crisis by announcing Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen has agreed to stay on as National Incident Commander of the oil spill, rather than stepping down as planned later this month.

The level of trust between the government and BP seems to be faltering of late. Gibbs told reporters that the White House would like more transparency from BP on the leak, saying the company should post measurements of its size as well as full video on its website.

Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) says why not make it a continuous livestream? "Congress and the American public have the right to know what is happening in real time, so that they can understand and react to the situation as it develops," said Markey, who chairs the Energy and Environment Subcommittee.

BP has already released short clips of video showing at least two different leaks gushing in the Gulf of Mexico, leading scientists to estimate a spill that is much larger than BP's original more modest estimates.

However, Gibbs told reporters that those vastly varying accounts, which can range in the tens of thousands of barrels a day, lead him to doubt anyone will ever be able to calculate just how much oil spewed the after the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded on April 20.

But EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said today that's exactly what the government is trying to do.

"We've come to realize that we need better estimates of what's coming out," she conceded to Shepard Smith on Fox News. "That's tricky science."

Smith pressed that BP has been resistant to such measures. While admitting "frustration" over calculating the spill's impact, Jackson said, "Over the next days, there's going to be more and more information coming in from NOAA and experts who are gonna try to do their best to come out with an accurate number."

The administration has recently attempted to reassert its public pressure on BP, beginning with President Obama's stern remarks last week.

When pushed by Smith on just who is running the show in the Gulf, Jackson quipped, "You're not going to hear me defending BP who may be responsible for the worst environmental catastrophe this country has seen."

In a bid to make sure the solution to the oil spill isn't as damaging as the spill itself, the EPA has directed BP to use less toxic chemical dispersants to break apart some of the oil.

"Our viewpoint is given the shear magnitude of what we're facing and our reliance on both at a surface and a sub seal level on those dispersants that as a matter of practice, at this point using the least toxic is the most optimum," Gibbs told reporters.