Washington: US President Barack Obama has said that the Gulf of Mexico disaster “echoes 9/11” because it will change the nation’s psyche for years to come.
The massive ongoing oil spill is now considered the largest offshore spill in US history, as tens of millions of gallons have spilled to date.
“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,” Politico quoted Obama, as saying.
Obama, who is facing mounting criticism for his handling of the BP gusher, also vowed to make a “bold” push for a major energy and climate bill.
“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.
The spill stems from a sea floor oil gusher that followed the April 20 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion, in which 11 platform workers were killed and injured others 17.
The gusher, now estimated to be flowing at 3,200,000 to 6,400,000 litres of crude oil per day, originates from a deepwater wellhead 5,000 feet (1,500 m) below the ocean surface.
The exact spill flow rate is uncertain because BP has refused to allow independent scientists to perform accurate measurements.
The resulting oil slick covers a surface area of at least 2,500 square miles, while scientists have also reported of immense underwater plumes of oil not visible at the surface.