For many oil companies, the Gulf represents some of their most profitable and promising properties. The White House is seemingly making an increased show of pressuring BP, but President Obama is facing political heat from within his own party for what some say has been a lackluster response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Since the spill began, there has been some intense political debate regarding BP's responsibility, the government's response, and the extent of the environmental damage. Matthew Dowd, political consultant and chief pollster to former President George W. Bush, said the incident is likely to pose a huge political problem, similar to what President Bush faced after Hurricane Katrina.
Administration officials also said the government will make changes to the way it allows offshore drilling, including new measures for the permitting process, new safety requirements for offshore rigs, and what was described as "strengthened" inspections for drilling operations. Having taking at least partial ownership of the crisis, the Obama administration is redoubling efforts to crack down on BP, sending a letter to CEO Tony Hayward complaining that his promises to provide complete and timely information on the spill "have fallen short in both their scope and effectiveness. BP has already agreed to set aside $20 billion over several years to pay for claims resulting from the oil spill. The company has paid the U.S. government $390 million for the cost of cleanup and received an additional bill for $128.5 million from the Obama administration.
Obama and his senior White House staff, as well as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, are working with BP's chief executive officer Tony Hayward on legislation that would raise the cap on liability for damage claims from those affected by the oil disaster from $75 million to $10 billion. However, WMR's federal and Gulf state sources are reporting the disaster has the real potential cost of at least $1 trillion....
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