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Obama promises to stand with Gulf Coast residents

Obama promises to stand with Gulf Coast residents
LaFourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph and U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, National Incident Commander for the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, accompanied President Barack Obama on a tour of areas impacted by the Gulf Coast oil spill in Port Fourchon, La. on May 28, 2010. Obama is seen here picking up a “tar ball.” (Photo: AP /Evan Vucci)

GRAND ISLE, La. — President Barack Obama promised Saturday to stand with the people of the Gulf Coast “until they are made whole” from the oil spill catastrophe.

Obama recorded his weekly radio and Internet address from this barrier island town he visited Friday on his third trip to the Gulf since an April 20 drilling rig explosion unleashed a gusher of crude into the waters there.

He spoke of the people he’d met — an oyster fisherman named Floyd whose oyster beds have been destroyed by oil, and Terry, a shrimper who is losing income because shrimp fishing has been shut down.

“These folks work hard,” Obama said. “They meet their responsibilities. But now because of a manmade catastrophe — one that’s not their fault and that’s beyond their control — their lives have been thrown into turmoil.

“It’s brutally unfair. It’s wrong. And what I told these men and women — and what I have said since the beginning of this disaster — is that I’m going to stand with the people of the Gulf Coast until they are made whole,” the president said.

Obama reiterated some of the steps his administration has taken to respond to the spill, including mobilizing National Guard troops.

And in the increasingly forceful tone he’s directing toward BP PLC, the British oil giant that was drilling the well that blew up, Obama said: “We will make sure they pay every single dime owed to the people along the Gulf Coast.”

Obama spoke as BP worked on its latest attempt to tame the runaway well 5,000 feet beneath the sea, by capping it and trying to siphon off some of the crude. But oil continued to escape. The damaged rig has disgorged at least 22 million gallons of crude into the Gulf.

“We are prepared for the worst, even as we hope that BP’s efforts bring better news than we’ve received before,” Obama said, noting that regardless of the outcome, there will continue to be some spillage until relief wells can be completed to permanently control the leak. That won’t happen until August at the earliest.

“And there will continue to be a massive cleanup ahead of us,” the president said.

Obama praised the people of the Gulf for their grit.

“We will fight alongside them, until the awful damage that has been done is reversed, people are back on their feet, and the great natural bounty of the Gulf Coast is restored,” he said.

Associated Press