the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Statement by the Press Secretary on the President's Oval Office Meeting to Discuss the Situation in the Gulf of Mexico

The President and First Lady's thoughts and prayers are with the family members and loved ones facing the tragic situation in the Gulf of Mexico. The President was briefed in the Oval Office this afternoon by a number of senior officials including Department of Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano, Admiral Thad Allen, United States Coast Guard Commandant, Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate as well as a host of senior white house officials including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner, Chair of Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley and Director of the National Economic Council Lawrence Summers.

The United States Coast Guard informed the President that search and rescue efforts are ongoing. The President made sure that the entire federal government was offering all assistance needed in the rescue effort as well as in mitigating and responding to the environmental impact and that this response was being treated as the number one priority. The President asked the responding departments to devote every resource needed to respond to this incident and investigate its cause.

The National Response Team has been activated and Unified and Area Commands have been established near New Orleans to coordinate search and rescue operations and oil spill response efforts.

The Department of the Interior and the Minerals Management Service as well as the Coast Guard are also working with responsible parties to support their important efforts to secure the pollution sources.  Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes was dispatched to the region yesterday to assist with coordination and response. The President wishes to thank the bravery of the professionals across the government who have worked non-stop over the last two days to save lives and protect the environment.

Click HERE for a photograph of the briefing.