Obama emphasizes drilling moratorium in meeting with victims' families

President Barack Obama emphasized his moratorium on offshore drilling Thursday during a meeting with the families of victims of the explosion on a BP-leased oil rig that triggered the Gulf of Mexico spill.

Obama met with families of the deceased on Thursday afternoon in the Red Room and State Dining Room at the White House, seven weeks after an explosion on a rig off the coast of Louisiana killed 11 workers.

The president reiterated the need for a pause on new drilling, in the face of some pressure to lift his moratorium on new offshore drilling.

Obama "said that while offshore drilling is a part of our nation’s overall energy strategy, he simply could not go forward with new deepwater drilling until we have the proper safety measures in place to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again," according to a White House readout of the meeting.

Those remarks came as a member of Obama's own party, Sen. Mary Landrieu, ramped up pressure on the president to lift his moratorium. The ban on drilling, the Louisiana senator said, was having an adverse effect on many of the state's oil workers. 

Obama announced a six-month moratorium on new drilling starts shortly after the spill began, with the possibility of it being lifted pending the conclusions of his oil spill commission.

Some of the victims met earlier in the day with Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to promote legislation to allow victims to seek non-economic damages after accidents like the BP oil rig disaster.

Also meeting with the victims alongside Obama at the White House were Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, National Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen, environmental adviser Carol Browner, and senior aide Valerie Jarrett.