Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday that he is dispatching a team of attorneys from multiple divisions within the Justice Department to New Orleans to meet with the U.S. Attorney and response teams and to monitor the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"The British Petroleum (BP) oil spill has already cost lives and created a major environmental incident," Holder said. "The Justice Department stands ready to make available every resource at our disposal to vigorously enforce the laws that protect the people who work and reside near the Gulf, the wildlife, the environment and the American taxpayers."
Holder said the team would be led by Ignacia Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. The combined group from the Department plans to make a site visit and meet with representatives from federal agencies working on the response.
The spill began as a result of the April 22 sinking of the Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig 130 miles southeast of New Orleans. There is now an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil per day being released into the Gulf of Mexico.
Louisiana and Florida have both declared states of emergency as the oil started to wash up on their shores Friday. The Louisiana National Guard has been called in to try and help contain the effects of the spill as the oil washes ashore.
President Barack Obama has dispatched several Cabinet secretaries to the impacted areas as well as 1,900 federal personnel and other resources.
The President has stated that BP will be responsible for all the costs related to the clean-up efforts in the wake of the spill.
In addition, President Obama announced Friday that he has ordered Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to review what happened and report back within 30 days with "additional precautions and technologies" to prevent future spills like this from happening again in the future.
Obama further tried to assure local residents impacted by the oil washing ashore that the federal government is "fully prepared to meet our responsibilities to any and all affected communities."
New offshore drilling has been banned until an investigation into this spill has been conducted, though Obama did not rule out future drilling.
"I continue to believe that domestic oil production is an important part of our overall strategy for energy security, but I've always said it must be done responsibly, for the safety of our workers and our environment," Obama said. "The local economies and livelihoods of the people of the Gulf Coast as well as the ecology of the region are at stake."
by RTT Staff Writer
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