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BP will pay for recklessness, swears Obama from Oval Office

Reuters

In the first Oval Office television address of his presidency, US President Barack Obama has vowed to “make BP pay” for its “recklessness” in causing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. He also pledged to wean the US off fossil fuels. The leak was on Tuesday estimated to be gushing up to 60,000 barrels a day.

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Obama said he would order BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg at a White House meeting to accept the creation of an independently controlled escrow account to compensate victims of the spill, which he described as "an environmental 9/11".

"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," Obama said.

"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. We cannot consign our children to this future.”

In his address, Obama also promised a long-term effort to help the battered Gulf coast, while defending his six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling as imperative for the safety of the region.

Experts are doubtful that Obama can turn his rhetoric into reality. Obama still has no hard answers on how to plug the leak eight weeks into the disaster - or how he’ll push his clean energy revolution through Congress.

The House of Representatives has already passed an energy reform bill, but the legislation faces stiff opposition in the Senate following the collapse of a bipartisan effort to pilot it through in the run-up to mid-term elections in November.

In reaction to Obama's speech, BP said: "We share the President's goal of shutting off the well as quickly as possible, cleaning up the oil and mitigating the impact on the people and environment of the Gulf Coast.

"We look forward to meeting tomorrow for a constructive discussion about how to best achieve these mutual goals."

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