Obama: Our Job Is Not Finished In Gulf Oil Spill

PANAMA CITY, Florida — President Barack Obama took a dip in the Gulf of Mexico Saturday, reassuring Americans that the government will stand by coastal residents as the massive oil-spill cleanup forges ahead. The president, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their younger daughter, Sasha -- daughter Malia is away at summer camp -- traveled to this Florida panhandle city to talk to local officials and business leaders, and highlight the region's tourist attractions. "Oil is no longer flowing into the Gulf," said Obama, speaking at a regional US Coast Guard headquarters. "But I'm here to tell you that our job is not finished, and we are not going anywhere until it is." Obama said that he wanted to deliver the message "directly" to residents of the Gulf Coast, which he has visited four times since an April explosion on a BP-leased oil rig triggered the disaster. "I made a commitment in my visits here that I was going to stand with you... until you have fully recovered from the damage that has been done. And that is a commitment my administration is going to keep," he said. The president was emphatic: "I won't be satisfied until the environment has been restored, no matter how long it takes." US officials are "going to continue to monitor and remove any oil that reaches the surface, and clean up any oil that hits the shore," he said. "As a result of the cleanup effort, beaches all along the Gulf Coast are clean, safe, and open for business." Obama also demanded that BP speed up processing of compensation claims. "I want to be clear about this: any delays -- by BP or by those managing the new fund -- are unacceptable, and I will keep pushing to get these claims expedited," he said. Earlier this week BP made its first deposit into the 20-billion-dollar Gulf of Mexico oil disaster fund intended to compensate thousands of residents and businesses hit by the largest maritime oil spill of all time.