"As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of good, middle-class jobs -- but only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment," he added. Obama also announced Tuesday that he has nominated Navy Secretary and former Mississippi governor Ray Mabus to head restoration plans.
On the Gulf coast, residents keenly watched the president's address. Some said watching Obama reassure them from the White House gave them hope and a sense that visiting the region first-hand made a difference for the president.
"I think we're seeing a change in how he's handling the situation and I hope for the better," said one Alabama resident.
Others said the president needs to do more on the ground.
"What I would have liked to have heard from him? That he actually had a plan," said Pensacola, Fla., resident Shelley Aspery.
"If we're at war as he says we are, then why aren't we bringing everybody into the picture that offered their help?" asked Charlie Brown.
Even before the president spoke, frustration had already given way to anger.
"I think it's lacking," one New Orleans resident said of the president's response. "I don't think he's responded to what we're going to do about the cleanup issues."
Before the president addressed the nation Tuesday night, most Americans said they were unhappy with the federal government's response to the oil spill. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released last week, 69 percent rated the federal response negatively and 64 percent said the government should pursue criminal charges against BP. An AP/GfK poll released Tuesday found similar results, with 52 percent saying they don't approve of Obama's handling of the spill.
Yet some Gulf coast residents say the responsibility doesn't lie solely in the hands of the president.
"I don't really think that's totally our president's job," said Alan Priest. "I think it's our responsibility as citizens to do that if we care about this place."
ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf contributed to this report.