Obama vows new energy bill push

US president says dependence on fossil fuels must end as BP struggles to contain oil leak.

    A massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has put focus on energy policies in the US [AFP]

    "It means tapping into our natural gas reserves, and moving ahead with our plan to expand our nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants." 

    in depth

    Obama said a price must be put on carbon pollution, and pledged to make a new push for the energy bill that has been stalled in the Senate.

    "The votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months," he said.

    Oil spill

    Obama is increasingly under pressure over his handling of the BP oil spill caused by the explosion of an offshore drilling rig on April 20.

    The British energy company has failed at several attempts to contain the leak, and it hit a new snag on Wednesday as it tried to siphon off some of the oil.

    Robot submarines must first cut away what is left of the ruined offshore well's leaking riser pipe. Then a containment cap can be lowered over the remaining wellhead assembly, enabling BP to funnel crude to the surface.

    But the diamond-tipped saw being used to cut through the pipe has gotten stuck, and BP is employing robots on the seabed to free it.

    "They're working to move the riser pipe to set it free," Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, chief of the US disaster response, said on Wednesday.

    "The goal is later on today to finish that cut, and to be able to put a containment device over the top of the wellhead and start containing the oil."

    Tar balls and other oil debris from the slick have reached Alabama's Dauphin Island and parts of Mississippi and were less than 16 km from Florida's northwest Panhandle coast on Wednesday.

    Officials in Florida said they expect landfall as early as Friday and are preparing to deploy more booms and conduct coastal cleanups.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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