Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said more rules are on the way.
"We are moving quickly and responsibly to raise the bar for the oil and gas industry's safety and environmental practices to prevent this type of disaster from happening again," Barkoff said in an email Saturday. "The oil and gas industry is having to meet new standards for everything from certification of well design and blowout preventers to planning for worst-case scenarios and being subjected to thorough environmental reviews."
During the spill, polls showed that the public disapproved of the president's overall handling of the crisis. But outside political races in gulf states, Obama's oil spill response hasn't been used much in broader attacks against him or Democrats as the nation heads toward midterm elections. In that sense, at least, the spill has not become "Obama's Katrina," as some predicted.
Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said Republicans who famously chanted "drill baby, drill" at their last convention are in this case boxed in by their own convictions.
"It's been hard for Republicans to exploit this very much, because it doesn't really help their argument for deregulation and giving these corporations greater freedoms," he said.
For London-based BP, the world's fourth-largest company, the future holds one certainty: trouble.
With a battered image and depleted coffers, the company will be forced to contend with massive waves of civil litigation, the possibility of federal environmental fines and a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
BP's market value has plummeted: As of Sept. 16, the oil giant had shed 34% of its market capitalization compared with its December 2009 value. BP has spent an estimated $8 billion on cleanup and compensation in addition to the $20 billion it deposited in an escrow fund to compensate for economic losses.
Company officials warned earlier this month that if new legislation hindered the company's ability to obtain new gulf drilling permits, it may not be able to fund the ambitious restoration projects it has promised for the region.
But pledges to "make this right" — repeated in the company's incessant national TV campaign — may be only one drag on BP's finances.
Roughly 300 civil lawsuits for economic damages and wrongful death await BP in a federal courthouse in New Orleans. The Justice Department signaled last week that it might sue BP for violating environmental laws. Fadel Gheit, a senior energy analyst for Oppenheimer & Co., has estimated that BP could face a maximum $2.9 billion fine from that lawsuit alone. The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a separate lawsuit seeking $19 billion in damages under the Clean Water Act.
FBI agents are examining whether BP officials misled Congress on how quickly the company could clean up a major spill. And an ongoing Coast Guard investigation suggests the BP Deepwater Horizon operation was marked by deferred maintenance and pressure to skirt safety measures in order to finish an overdue job. BP's internal investigation blamed a series of mechanical and human failures, but it also took aim at two rig contractors, Halliburton and Transocean Ltd.
The company will also have to acquit itself in the court of public opinion. In 2000, BP underwent an environmentally friendly rebranding, changing its logo to a green and yellow starburst and touting itself as "beyond petroleum."
But the Deepwater Horizon fire was only the latest of the company's oil-related disasters: In 2005, an explosion at BP's Texas City, Texas, refinery killed 15 workers and injured more than 170. Last month, BP agreed to pay a record $50.6 million fine for safety violations discovered at the plant by federal inspectors in 2009.
Along the Gulf Coast, the impact of the spill on humans often mirrors the situation on the water: To the casual observer, things seem fine on the surface. But beneath are roiling unknowns.
In downtown New Orleans, locals and tourists still dine on famous gulf delicacies. At Drago's Seafood Restaurant in nearby Metairie, the house specialty, charbroiled oysters, remains on the menu, though occasionally with oysters from Texas.
Two hours to the south, Dean Blanchard, owner of one of the largest shrimp businesses in coastal Grand Isle, La., said the oil spill has nearly driven him out of business. He is thinking about shutting down and moving to Costa Rica.
"People are scared to eat our product. I had a fisherman tell me his mama won't eat shrimp," said Blanchard, 51. "I've let go of 90% of my workforce.... Last August, shrimpers brought me 2 million pounds of crop. This year, they are bringing me next to nothing."
Thad Allen, the federal spill response chief, has called the seafood going to market "the most tested, and safest, seafood in the world right now." But many fishermen in Louisiana don't believe it.