Obama on Oil Spill: It's My Job to Shut This Down

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The Gulf Coast oil spill is being declared the worst spill in the nation's history, as scientists estimate BP's damaged well is spewing as much as five times more oil than previously thought.

If true, the spill exceeds damages from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.

BP is having some success in controlling the oil by injecting mud into the leak, the Coast Guard reported Thursday. But the so called "top kill" fix could take several days.

Meanwhile, growing criticism of the government's handling of the spill has forced one resignation in the Obama administration. Elizabeth Birnbaum, head of the U.S. Minerals Management Service responsible for overseeing offshore drilling, has stepped down.

Questions about the oil spill also dominated a news conference with President Obama, Thursday.

Government's Slow Response

The media had their first chance to confront the president about criticism that his administration was slow in reacting to the oil spill -- and is still failing to respond quick enough.

"How can you say that everything that can be done is being done with all these experts and all these officials saying that's not true?" ABC News reporter Jake Tapper asked.

"If the question is, Jake, 'are we doing everything perfectly out there,' then the answer is absolutely not," Obama answered. "We can always do better."

"It's going to be entirely possible in an operation this large that mistakes are made," the president continued. "Judgments prove to be wrong that people say in retrospect, you know if we could have done that or did that, this might have turned out differently."

Obama admitted that the government "fell short" in pushing BP to release its camera footage of the spill from the ocean floor sooner.

Many are calling the oil spill "Obama's Katrina," comparing his handling of the current crisis to the criticism former President George W. Bush faced following Hurricane Katrina.

"I will leave it to you guys to make those comparisons," Obama said. "I'm confident that people are going to look back and say that this administration was on top of what was an unprecedented crisis."

Obama said people along the Gulf Coast need to know that it's the government that's running the show now, not BP.

Victims Speak Out

Meanwhile, Congress heard from the first victims of the disaster Thursday, the men in the explosion on the BP oil rig and the father of one man who died in the accident.

Keith Jones said money can't make up for the loss of his 28-year-old son Gordon, but BP must pay.

"Because they have the infrastructure and economic might to make more money," he said about the company's ability to move on after the disaster. "But Gordon will never be back. Never... and neither will any of the 10 good men who died with him."

The president said he is fully aware of that the disaster is an extremely emotional issue.

"When I woke up this morning and I'm shaving and Malia knocks on my bathroom door and she peeks in her head and she says, 'did you plug the hole yet, daddy?'" Obama said. "In any of your reporting, in case you were wondering who is responsible, I take responsibility."

"It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down," he said.

Aside from answering questions, Obama also announced multiple moves to deal with the aftermath of the spill, including a moratorium on offshore drilling permits for six months.

He also suspended planned exploration drilling off the coasts of Alaska and Virginia and on some oil wells currently being explored in the Gulf of Mexico.

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CBN News
Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.