President Obama responds to Gulf oil crisis (10 images)
WASHINGTON, June 16 (UPI) -- Although the heart of U.S. President Barack Obama's Tuesday speech was the gulf oil spill, there was room to seek support for parts of his legislative agenda.
Obama used his prime-time address from the Oval Office to plug an energy bill before the U.S. Senate (similar legislation passed the House of Representatives last June), saying, "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."
The president also said he appointed a former Justice Department official to lead the Minerals Management Service and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to develop a "long-term strategy for the gulf."
Before the speech Republicans warned it shouldn't be used as a political platform but Obama, nonetheless, used the opportunity to demand action on the energy bill.
"The one approach I will not accept is inaction," the president said.
On Wednesday, President Obama announced BP has agreed to set up a $20 billion fund to compensate those affected by the gulf oil spill.
Obama met with BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg at the White House to discuss the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico since the Transocean oil rig operated by BP exploded April 20, killing 11, and sank two days later, spewing as much as 60,000 barrels of oil a day every since.
BP said in a statement Tuesday: "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."
BP announced Tuesday it sped up commercial large-loss claims and approved checks totaling more than $16 million to businesses that have filed claims of at least $5,000.
BP America CEO Lamar McKay listens as BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg (not pictured) speaks to the media following a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington on June 16, 2010. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg
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