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Obama vows to fight oil spill, makes case for clean energy

11:24, June 16, 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday evening the government will fight the oil spill in Gulf of Mexico "with everything we've got for as long it takes," and used the tragedy to make the case for the nation to embrace clean energy.

President Barack Obama is photographed while delivering a televised address from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday June 15, 2010. President Obama said the nation will continue to fight the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for 'as long as it takes.' (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

In his first oval office address to the nation, Obama recounted efforts made by the government to stop the oil leak in the destroyed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, saying he will do whatever's necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from the worst environmental disaster the United States has ever faced.

Obama said the government and BP, which operated the sunken rig, will be able to "capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well" in the coming days and weeks, until BP finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that is expected to stop the leak completely.

U.S. scientists on Tuesday significantly increased estimate of how much oil is spilling into the Gulf, saying the most likely flow rate of oil ranges from 35,000 to 60,000 barrels per day, a jump from last week's estimate of 20,000 to 40,000 barrels per day.

Just returned from a two-day tour in the Gulf Coast, Obama said unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, the oil spill is not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days.

"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," said he.

He then proceeded to lay out the plan forward, which include how to clean up the oil, how to help coastal states affected by the spill, and how to make sure a similar catastrophe never happens again.

Saying he won't let the Gulf's way of life perish with this disaster, Obama said the government "will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused."

Obama is to meet with BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg on Wednesday, and he will ask BP to set aside "whatever resources are required" to compensate workers and business owners harmed by the oil spill in Gulf of Mexico. The fund is to be administered by an independent third party.

Obama said the oil spill is a painful and powerful reminder that "time to embrace a clean energy future is now."

He said although people have known for decades the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered, but have failed to end the country's "addiction to fossil fuels."

He blamed the inaction on oil industry lobbyists, and "a lack of political courage and candor," and touted that the transition to clean energy has the "potential to grow our economy and create millions of good, middle-class jobs."  (Extracted By Sean)