President Obama Addresses Nation from the Oval Office About the BP Oil Spill

Full Transcript of President Obama’s speech, “A Faith in the Future that Sustains us as a People”

President Obama addressed the nation last night, assuring all Americans that he is working hard, with scientists, engineers, oil company executives and 30,000 volunteers and aid workers to help stop and clean up the oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from the April 20 BP Horizon Deepwater oil rig explosion. The President called this the greatest environmental disaster in the history of the United States of America.

That’s why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge — a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s Secretary of Energy. Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.

He talked about the cleanup effort, already underway, to prevent oil from reaching beaches and shorelines along Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Because of our efforts, millions of gallons of oil have already been removed from the water through burning, skimming and other collection methods. Over five and a half million feet of boom has been laid across the water to block and absorb the approaching oil. We’ve approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try to stop the oil before it reaches the shore, and we’re working with Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to implement creative approaches to their unique coastlines.

President Obama asked Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy to lead the development of the Gulf Coast Restoration Plan.

The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists and other Gulf residents.

To ensure a disaster like this doesn’t happen again, the President has launched an investigation to find out why this oil spill happened. After issuing permits for experimental offshore drilling, he has placed a six-month moratorium on offshore drilling until he is satisfied that this type of deep-oil extraction can be done safely.

And so I’ve established a National Commission to understand the causes of this disaster and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we need to put in place.

On Monday, President Obama appointed members of the new BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission, which consists of scientists, academics and environmental experts.

They are:

    Frances Beinecke is currently the President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a non-profit corporation that works to advance environmental policy in the United States and across the world.
    Don Boesch is the President of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, where he is also a Professor of Marine Science and Vice Chancellor for Environmental Sustainability for the University System of Maryland.
    Terry D. Garcia is currently Executive Vice President for Mission Programs for the National Geographic Society. Prior to joining the Society in 1999, Mr. Garcia was Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Deputy Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
    Dr. Cherry Murray is the Dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and is currently the Past President of the American Physical Society. Dr. Murray’s expertise is in condensed matter and materials physics, phase transitions, light scattering and surface physics, including the study of soft condensed matter and complex fluids, as well as the management of science and technology.
    Fran Ulmer is Chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), Alaska’s largest public university. In addition to serving as UAA’s Chancellor, Ms. Ulmer is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Arctic Climate Change and holds Board positions with the Alaska Nature Conservancy, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

President Obama took the opportunity the BP oil spill afforded to make a plea for all Americans to band together to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and to innovate toward a new alternative energy future.

So I’m happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party -– as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels. Some have suggested raising efficiency standards in our buildings like we did in our cars and trucks. Some believe we should set standards to ensure that more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power. Others wonder why the energy industry only spends a fraction of what the high-tech industry does on research and development -– and want to rapidly boost our investments in such research and development.

The President challenged the nation to turn this tragedy into an opportunity to do something unexpected and very difficult to secure a brighter energy future and at the same time reduce the effects of climate change.

But the one approach I will not accept is inaction. The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is somehow too big and too difficult to meet. You know, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom.

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