House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that a massive oil spill threatening the Louisiana coast must play a role in considering President Barack Obama's offshore drilling plan.

Pelosi refused to endorse a ban on new exploration and drilling proposed by Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) Thursday in the wake of the spill, but she said that the disaster -- which officials believe killed 11 people -- needs to be taken into account when weighing Obama's plan to expand offshore oil and gas leasing.


"I would extend our concerns to those who lost their lives in the Gulf," she told reporters at her weekly press briefing. "We're going to take a look at the nature of the coastline and all of that has to be taken into consideration as we review the plan that the president put forth."

The Speaker's comments come after Obama received a briefing on the spill Thursday morning, underscoring the likelihood it will impact the debate over his drilling plan as well as sweeping climate change legislation set to be considered by Congress following the completion of the financial regulatory overhaul.

Those opposed to Obama's drilling plan have said the spill should cause the administration to reconsider its decision to expand offshore exploration.

Federal and congressional investigators are currently examining the spill to determine its cause.

President Barack Obama said at a Rose Garden statement Thursday that his administration "will continue to use every single available resource at our disposal, including potentially the Department of Defense, to address the incident."

But the White House has not said that plans to expand drilling areas should be sidelined.

Pelosi did say that, overall, drilling is safer than it was years ago, but that safety could be improved.

"There is much safer drilling than when we started these fight many years ago," said the Speaker, who then added that there is "room for improvement."

Cross-posted to E-2 Wire