President Barack Obama said Tuesday that working to contain environmental damage from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill poses a significant challenge to the nation and pledged to explore all options for replacing threatened jobs.
He told a group of business leaders the huge spill "is a reminder that the nation's economy can face a sudden and costly crisis at any time."
"Wherever possible, I would like to see the people most affected by the disaster involved in the cleanup," Obama told the annual meeting of the Business Council, an association of chief executive officers.
That might soften the impact of job losses in industries like fishing and tourism that are the most directly affected by the spill caused by an explosion on a BP drilling rig that is pouring 200,000 gallons of oil a day into Gulf waters.
"We are committed to preventing as much of the economic damage as possible by working to contain the impact of this potentially devastating spill," Obama said. "We will continue to explore every possible option to create jobs and support local economies" while continuing to monitor potential damages to the environment and to the regional and national economies.
"Obviously, there's going to be a significant challenge and we are going to be working overtime to make sure that we mitigate its impacts," Obama said.
As to the larger economy, Obama said he welcomed signs of a rebound but said too many people are still out of work and many businesses remain closed. "Spurring job creation and economic expansion continues to be our No. 1 domestic economy," Obama said.
He also put in a plug for legislation now before the Senate to overhaul the nation's financial regulation system to reduce chances of another major financial crisis.
Obama said he recognizes that many controversies still surround the effort but said a common-ground, commonsense solution is within grasp.