Obama: Drilling moratorium is necessary

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says he understands the difficulties stemming from a six-month moratorium on new permits for deepwater drilling but tells the nation that he has to ensure the safety of those who work on the oil rigs at sea.

Obama on Tuesday said he had proposed expanded offshore drilling a few months ago with the assurances it was absolutely safe.

He says that was obviously not the case aboard the BP rig that exploded and is now spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

In his first address from the Oval Office, Obama says he wants to hear a national panel's recommendations to improve worker safety and environmental protections before the moratorium is lifted.

He says he also wants to understand what led to the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.