White House presses BP execs on payment of claims, seeks to demonstrate commitment to GulfBy AP
Monday, August 9, 2010
WH officials press BP on payment of claims
WASHINGTON — Top White House officials told BP executives Monday to move quickly on paying state and local government claims in the Gulf and stay committed to long-term recovery from the oil spill there. President Barack Obama celebrated progress in stopping the runaway well, saying that “the battle to stop the oil from flowing into the Gulf is just about over.”
“Our work goes on, though,” Obama said during an appearance with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. “I made a commitment to the people of the Gulf Coast that I would stand by them not just until the well was closed but until they recovered from the damage that’s been done. And that’s a commitment my administration is going to keep.”
The administration moved on several fronts Monday to pound home that message. After Obama finished his meeting with the Saints and headed to Texas for fundraisers, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, met with BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley and others to instruct the company to make good on its promises.
The Justice Department also announced that it had finished negotiations with BP to implement a $20 billion fund for victims of the Gulf oil spill and that BP has made a $3 billion initial deposit.
Gulf residents are watching warily to see whether the government and BP will stay on the case in the Gulf now that the most visible element of the disaster — the broken well spewing millions of gallons a day — is no longer there. BP stopped up the leak with mud and cement last week and is working to complete the relief well that is meant as the permanent solution to the spill.
Along with Emanuel and Dudley, the White House meeting included BP executive Lamar McKay, White House counsel Bob Bauer, energy adviser Carol Browner and retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the top federal official overseeing the spill response.
The administration officials “impressed upon BP the importance of living up to their commitment to long term recovery, and underscored that the administration will remain vigilant in ensuring that promise is met,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement.
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