President Obama pressed Congress to scrap billions in oil company tax breaks and pass legislation to help the nation kick a dangerous "fossil fuel addiction" yesterday, trying to channel disgust over the worsening oil disaster into a force for clean energy.

Seeking opportunity in a crisis, Obama argued in a speech at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh for action in Congress as crews struggled into a seventh week to contain BP's mangled oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. He urged lawmakers to shift the tax-break money toward clean-energy research and approve a major energy bill, now stalled in the Senate, that would slap a price on carbon emissions.

Obama's tough words about Big Oil came as he and oil giant BP face growing unhappiness from a public watching the disaster unfold day by day. What started with an oil rig explosion on April 20 has become the worst spill in U.S. history, with oil reaching shorelines and still gushing with no permanent fix in sight.

Yesterday, the oil slick drifted perilously close to the Florida Panhandle's famous sugar-white beaches yesterday as a risky gambit to contain the leak by shearing off the well pipe ran into trouble a mile under the sea when the diamond-tipped saw became stuck.

As the edge of the slick drifted within seven miles of Pensacola's beaches, emergency workers rushed to link the last in a miles-long chain of booms designed to fend off the oil.