WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says the Gulf Coast oil spill is a reminder that the days of cheap and easy-to-get oil are numbered.
In his Oval Office address Tuesday night, Obama said the tragedy unfolding in the Gulf should spark Congress to embrace a "clean energy" future that eases dependence on oil and other fossil fuels.
Obama hailed a bill passed in the House last year to curb pollution blamed for global warming, but he stopped short of directly calling for the Senate to pass a similar bill. He said he is open to a variety of approaches on energy from either party, as long as they seriously tackle what he calls the nation's "addiction" to fossil fuels. Obama says the one approach he will not accept is inaction.
Obama called the spill "the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced" and will take years to combat. He said that "unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it is not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days."
He said the millions of gallons of crude oil that have gushed into Gulf waters from a broken well "are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years."
The President went on to say he will demand that the chairman of BP set aside whatever money is needed to compensate the many people who have been hurt by the company's "recklessness."
He said the spill has caused a sense of sadness and anger that goes much deeper than dollars. He spoke of anxiety that people may lose their entire way of life. Said the president, "I refuse to let that happen."
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