Obama vows to make BP restore Gulf Coast

By MARGARET TALEV – McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON

President Barack Obama on Tuesday night used his first Oval Office address to try to change Americans’ perceptions of his handling of the BP oil disaster, which has gushed out of control for nearly two months in the Gulf of Mexico, and to make the case that he and his team are finally in the driver’s seat.

“We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes,” Obama said in the 17-minute address he delivered hours after returning from his fourth Gulf Coast visit and on the eve of his first meeting with top BP officials.

“We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused,” he said. He also asserted that unlike an earthquake or a hurricane that ends quickly, this out-of-control oil well is “more like an epidemic” and “stopping it has tested the limits of human technology.”

The president also said the Gulf disaster underscores that America must begin moving now to a clean-energy economy, starting by passing clean-energy legislation.

Obama offered few new specifics, however, reciting steps that have been taken toward plugging the hole and capturing the spilled oil. He vowed to restore the Gulf Coast and said he’d tapped Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former Mississippi governor, to oversee the development of a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan funded by BP.

However, veterans of the smaller 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill in Alaska have warned the battle was lost the moment oil got away.

“The damage will be done,” Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska marine science professor, told McClatchy. “There’s really no easy way to rehabilitate oiled wildlife, no easy way to restore an oil-injured ecosystem, and there’s certainly no easy way to make lives whole that were turned upside-down by these things.”

Read more: http://www.sunherald.com/2010/06/15/2262863/obama-vows-to-make-bp-restore.html#ixzz0r1EublPq

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