Fallout also has been felt at the Interior Department agency responsible for overseeing offshore oil drilling. Obama administration appointee Liz Birnbaum, an environmental advocate who has headed the much-criticized Minerals Management Service just since last July, suddenly resigned last Thursday; even Obama professed not to know the details of her departure several hours after it was first reported.
Responsibility for the accident, Obama has said, ultimately rests with BP, but the federal government is in charge of the response. "Those who think we were slow in our response or lacked urgency don't have the facts," he said. But he will have to work to change that perception. Even if someone can figure out how to cap the leak, there's still the massive problem of oil coating beaches and marshes, a problem many say the federal government has been slow to tackle.