Obama wants to "plug the damn hole"

WASHINGTON Tue May 25, 2010 8:03pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has privately expressed his frustration to senior government officials that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has not been stopped and has made clear his feelings about it.

"Plug the damn hole," he has told them, according to aides.

Obama will make his second visit to the Gulf of Mexico area

on Friday to assess the latest efforts to counter the worst U.S. environmental catastrophe since the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

The Obama administration is under pressure to do more, but finds itself having to rely on BP Plc to carry the load in trying to plug the leak, gushing oil for 36 days.

The administration has been exerting strong pressure on the giant oil company to stop the gusher.

BP agreed to continue showing a live video feed of the latest attempt to stop the leak on Wednesday at the request of Obama and federal officials, an administration official said.

U.S. officials recognize only BP has the technology and expertise to handle the gusher. "Well, to push BP out of the way would raise a question, to replace them with what?" said Thad Allen, in charge of the U.S. response to the disaster.

Frustrations are rising in the Gulf region, with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal demanding more help from the federal government. Republicans in Congress are joining the fray.

Missouri Republican Representative Roy Blunt on Tuesday called on Salazar to approve more supplies for the Gulf Coast, such as more oil-absorbing booms and sand berms, and said the government's "lack of contingency planning for this kind of catastrophe should be a wake up call."

"The American people expect better from the federal government," Blunt said in a statement.

Administration efforts are concentrating largely on trying to control the spread of the spill and protecting Louisiana's fragile coastline.

"The administration has mobilized one of the largest responses to a catastrophic event in history, with more than 1,200 vessels in the region and more than 22,000 people, including many of the brightest scientific minds from both the public and private sector, working around the clock to mitigate the oil's impact," the White House said.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Todd Eastham)

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