President Barack Obama said on Tuesday the US government would do everything needed to revive the Gulf Coast from the worst oil disaster in US history.
In his first televised speech from the White House Oval Office since becoming president, Obama called the growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico an "epidemic" that would take months, if not years, to be fully cleaned up.
"Make no mistake: we will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long as it takes," Obama said in an 18-minute evening speech that was designed in part to quell growing criticism of the president's handling of the crisis.
Obama voiced optimism that oil giant BP would be able cap about 90 per cent of the leaking oil within the next few days or weeks. But he vowed to keep up pressure on the British firm to meet its responsibility to pay for all aspects of the cleanup and compensate local businesses and people whose livelihoods are in danger.
Obama is to meet BP's top executives on Wednesday. The president will instruct BP to "set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of this company's recklessness".
The escrow fund would be administered by a third party. Some of Obama's fellow Democrats have called for as much as $20 billion to be allocated to the account by BP.