President Barack Obama likened the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to the Sept. 11 attacks in an interview published on the eve of his fourth visit Monday to the stricken region.
"In the same way that our view of our vulnerabilities and our foreign policy was shaped profoundly by 9/11, I think this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come," he told Politico.com.
Obama said he would be making a fresh bid to get Congress to pass a major energy and climate bill.
He was quoted as vowing to "move forward in a bold way in a direction that finally gives us the kind of future-oriented . . . visionary energy policy that we so vitally need and has been absent for so long."
"One of the biggest leadership challenges for me going forward is going to be to make sure that we draw the right lessons from this disaster," he said.
Obama said he could not predict whether the nation would transition completely from an oil-based economy within his lifetime but that "now is the time for us to start making that transition and investing in a new way of doing business when it comes to energy."
Obama travels Monday to Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida on a two-day visit to a region reeling from the effects of the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
On Tuesday, he will address the crisis in a rare prime-time speech to the nation from the Oval Office.
© AFP 2013