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Obama Rips Oil Industry Executives for ‘Ridiculous Spectacle’ on Capitol Hill

President Obama on Friday castigated oil industry executives for failing to take responsibility for the Gulf Coast oil spill, blasting officials for pointing fingers of blame during Congressional hearings into the accident this week.

“I did not appreciate what I considered to be a ridiculous spectacle during the congressional hearings into this matter,” the president said from the Rose Garden. “You had executives of BP and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else. The American people could not have been impressed with that display, and I certainly wasn’t.”

The president’s remarks came as questions continue to swirl about the exact magnitude of the oil spill. BP has placed the size of the spill at approximately 5,000 barrels a day, but an NPR investigation out Friday found at least 10 times more oil may be leaking into the Gulf than official estimates have suggested.

“I know there have been varying reports over the last few days about how large the leak is, but since no one can get down there in person, we know there is a level of uncertainty,” President Obama said. He added: “Our mobilization and response efforts have always been geared toward the possibility of a catastrophic event. And what really matters is this: There’s oil leaking and we need to stop it — and we need to stop it as soon as possible.”

The president said that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will conduct a “top-to-bottom reform” of the Minerals Management Service, which oversees offshore drilling. The federal government has also ordered immediate inspections of all deepwater operations in the Gulf of Mexico, Mr. Obama said.

Oil companies, equipment manufacturers and the federal government share responsibility to avert future spills, he said.

“I will not tolerate more finger pointing or irresponsibility,” said President Obama, who did not take any questions from reporters after his remarks.

We’ll have more about the president’s remarks and the ongoing efforts to contain the oil leak on Friday’s NewsHour broadcast. Stay tuned.

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