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Obama speech on BP oil spill a call to action for clean energy

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In an address long on big picture and short on detail, Obama did not reveal whether he would push for the kind of “cap and trade” provision the House has already passed, which would limit carbon emissions – and which opponents call a tax. He mentioned the word “climate” only once in the speech, when referring to the House bill.

Instead, Obama focused his sights on a larger call to American action, summoning memories of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy.

“The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is somehow too big and too difficult to meet,” Obama said. “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.”

With nearly one-third of Obama’s 17-minute speech devoted to long-term energy reform, critics complained that the president gave the immediate crisis short shrift and provided no new details. He repeated his assertion that the US will make British energy giant BP, the company behind the disaster, pay for the damage. And he reminded viewers that the US is requiring BP to put money aside to compensate workers and business owners who have been harmed “as a result of the company’s recklessness.” Obama did not mention figures, but Senate Democrats have discussed a $20 billion escrow fund.

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