President Obama pledges to contain the Gulf oil spill, as he moved to harness public outrage into support for cutting U.S. dependence on oil. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
U.S. President Barack Obama, in his first address from the Oval Office pledged to do all he could to contain the Gulf Coast oil spill and help the region recover, as he moved to harness public outrage over the disaster into support for his bid to cut U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.
"We will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused,"
With a team of U.S. scientists now raising their estimates on the oil spill to a range between 35,000 to 60,000 barrels per day, Obama said it will take time to clean up the region.
"The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.
After millions of gallons of oil pouring into the Gulf, fouling 120 miles of the U.S. coastline, imperiling a multibillion-dollar fishing and tourism industries and killing wildlife in its wake, Obama said it is time embrace a new energy strategy.
"The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny.
Opinion polls show most Americans believe Obama has not been tough enough in dealing with BP.
"Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent, third party.
Obama has already seen public support falter because of the spill, unleashed April 20, when a BP Deepwater Horizon rig sank the drilling platform and killed 11 workers -- now the question is whether his Oval Office address can placate angry voters in a congressional election year when his Democratic party's grip on legislative power is at risk.
Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters