May 30th, 2010
12:06 PM ET
8 years ago

Not rational to give up on offshore drilling, Vitter says

Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, likened opposing offshore drilling because of the Gulf oil spill to opposing traveling by airplane after every plane crash.

Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, likened opposing offshore drilling because of the Gulf oil spill to opposing traveling by airplane after every plane crash.

Washington (CNN) - A Republican senator from the state so far the hardest hit by the Gulf oil spill said Sunday that the environmental catastrophe was not a reason to put a stop to all domestic offshore oil drilling.

"By the same token, after every plane crash, you and I should both oppose plane travel," Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on CNN's State of the Union. "I don't think that is rational."

Watch: Vitter on the oil spill

Vitter added that it was necessary to determine what went wrong in the sequence of events that led up to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20 which caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

"We've going to need a lot of new technology and mandates and procedures," Vitter told Crowley, "And I will be a big part of that effort.

"But to jump from there to say: No domestic offshore drilling, no domestic production of oil and gas . . . I think is a crazy leap quite frankly."

Vitter also said Sunday that he agreed with the president's call to develop cleaner, more renewable sources of energy than the fossil fuels on which we currently depend.

"But we're not going to do it next week or next month. So we also need a plan to bridge [from] where we are to that new future."

The Louisiana Republican said he sees nuclear and natural gas as the two biggest components of a plan to bridge between fossil fuels and cleaner, renewable energy.

Echoing the frustrations of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, and many local Louisiana officials, Vitter said that so far the federal response to the spill in his state has been a "failure."

"I am not satisfied," Vitter told Crowley. "There has been failure particularly with the effort to protect our coast and our marsh."

Vitter said Louisiana's concerns about the efforts to minimize the onshore effects of the spill "was the biggest topic of discussion in a very frank meeting we had with the president on Friday" when the president made his second trip to Louisiana since the Deepwater Horizon exploded roughly 6 weeks ago.

"BP's paying for all that but that's really the federal government's response - to oversee and lead that effort to protect the coast and the marsh - and it's been a failure so far.

"And we explained very clearly the significant changes we think need to happen." said Vitter.

And the Louisiana senator also faulted the Minerals Management Service ("MMS"), the embattled federal agency charged with overseeing offshore drilling. The agency has a history of known problems that date back at least two years, Vitter said.

The Republican added that there should "probably" be more firings in the federal government in addition to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision late last week to replace Elizabeth Birnbaum, the former director of MMS who ran the agency for roughly the last year.

soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Byrd

    So, the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Coast is not enough for you, is it Vitter? You're the exact reason we've yet to transition to hemp oil instead of petroleum, but according to your twisted logic, immediate profits for the status quo far outweigh any environmental concerns. You are indeed, a pig of the first magnitude.

    May 30, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. Shane

    We don't want to turn a cold shoulder to all that glorious blood money, do we, Senator?
    Apparently, it's too ballsy to suggest tax incentives for automakers to cease production of the internal combustion engine by 2015. After all, automakers have only had since the mid-1800's to perfect the electric engine and its power source.

    May 30, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. renobill

    I agree with a Repuke, oh, once every 40 years or so, but this guy is right. It's a tragedy but we have to put in more safeguards, and keep on drilling out there until we go solar and nuke.

    May 30, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. Anthony

    Deep sea drilling + no regulation = environmental disaster You cant scream drill baby drill when there was no a plan for the worst case scenario. HELLO!!!This spill can not really be cleaned up, its too big. One can always count on the republicans to be on the wrong side on an issue. They will fight against regulation here just like they did when big financial corporations went to far and collapsed the economy. They wont be able to claim to be good stewarts of the environment now so they will go down in history supporting the destruction of the ocean.

    May 30, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    Comparing the Gulf oil spill to a plane crash is silly – and Vitter knows it.

    While tragic, a plane crash affects a limited number of people and a limited geographic area.

    In contrast, the Gulf oil spill has resulted in loss of life (the 11 drilling platform workers) and the devastation of an entire ecosystem, plus several Gulf industries (fishing, shrimping and tourism). These effects – from both oil and dispersants – will continue for years, possibly decades, to come.

    And we do not yet know to where all the oil will spread, and to what extent it will damage more ecosystems and industries.

    Then there's the hurricane season, and the effect the oil and dispersants will have on that (size and pattern of hurricanes; effect of oil and dispersants pulled onshore and inland; etc.).

    May 30, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. Web Seed, Costa Rica

    I think it is important to ask what the future of this well is. This gusher has huge economic value and i would like to know if BP thinks they are going to still beifit from it at some point in the future.
    I beleive that there is a major conflict of interest For BP to "KILL" this well and cap it with tons of concrete, forever losing the revenue of this well and all the money spent to find it. This is an important point and nobady is talking about it.

    May 30, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  7. w l jones

    Government is our biggest head ache untile we have a problem in our own back yard the the government suppose to cure all my pains. Other one for government in theirs live or be content with what our government is durn about this oil spill.

    May 30, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. The Truth, Please...I Just Want The Truth

    We need to go full speed ahead with our development of GREEN energy, and leave our dependency on oil behind.

    We need to move forward, not go backward.

    May 30, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain

    Of course the Republicans will find a way to blame the government – when they should be blaming GW Bush and the Republicans who changed oil industry regulations to include "voluntary compliance" with measures to prevent these kinds of spills in the first place!

    When are Vitter, Jindal and the other Republicans going to grow a pair and admit that companies will always cut corners to make a buck, and that without mandatory compliance to strict safety and operation regulations, companies will take the kind of risks that result in catastrophes such as the Gulf spill?

    May 30, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

    "The Louisiana Republican said he sees nuclear and natural gas as the two biggest components of a plan to bridge between fossil fuels and cleaner, renewable energy."

    So Vitter is offering Louisiana as a nuclear waste storage site?

    May 30, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. Gary

    What is not rational is Sen. Vitter's analogy comparing the widespread devastation of the Gulf oil spill to the localized event of a plane crash. We are currently facing the destruction of an entirre ecosystem and way of life for millions of Americans whose livelihoods are related to the Gulf economy. Shallow thinking is not likely to help deal with the myriad of issues involved.

    May 30, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  12. Larry

    Only a Republican would defend special interests in the middle of a disaster.

    You corrupt Republicans are amazing people, and now you're transparent. We didn't stop you in '94, we're going to stop you now.

    We'll get the rest of you out of office in November.

    May 30, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. mike

    I love how all these republicans keep screaming about the federal response with one breath and then scream about needing a smaller government with the next breath.

    They say Obama has not done enough to regulate these industries. Of course, every time he does try to regulate anything, they filibuster.

    And then there is good old Bobby Jindal and Vitter. How is that 'drill baby drill' working out for you. The republicans are hypocrites. Period.

    May 30, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. co citizen

    Louisiana politicians at all govt. levels, both Democratic and Republican, have been in the back pocket of big oil for over five decades? Despite the disaster that this cozy relationship has brought down on their state, did anyone really expect these people to change? A quick Google review of Louisiana's history of political scandals should answer the question for anyone who may have any doubts as to the answer. In the mean time these hypocrites can just continue to blame the federal govt. How convenient.

    May 30, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. DOG1

    "We've going to need a lot of new technology and mandates and procedures," Vitter told Crowley, "And I will be a big part of that effort."

    I wonder if Vitter is one of the politicians that BP lobbied to make sure they didn't have to have the acoustic activator on that Blow Out Preventer on this and all their Gulf wells. Most, if not all, other countries require them but, I suppose, their politicians don't make as much money from "campaign contributions" as guys like this. It may be interesting to see just how much he's made from being a friend to the oil industry.

    May 30, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. vp

    "Not rational to give up on offshore drilling", Vitter says

    It's not rational to wear diapers and visit hookers either, Mr. Vitter.

    But that didn't stop you.

    How much have you received in campaign contributions from the Oil industry in the last decade?

    May 30, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    Web Seed, Costa Rica makes a good point: BP is all about profits; how will they justify to their shareholders the shutting down of this well?

    And here's a paranoid thought: Can we trust that BP has really tried their best to cap the well? Their latest plan is to drill another well next to this one, then close off the first; how do we know they're not doing this to have an excuse to continue drilling in this spot?

    I'm sure BP's lawyers are working feverishly to come up with legal arguments to make the government subsidize everything they've been doing to cap the well and drill the new one ...

    May 30, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Micky

    Drilling without having proper disaster recovery plans in place is a bit irrational as well to say the least. The airplane industry is heavily regulated for saftey isues. To brazenly drill without taking necessary safety precautions is crazy and demonstrates the oil industry's lost sense of responsibility and greed. It's about time that the oil company stops getting away with whatever if feels necessary to obtain grossly elevated profits. We are talking about six months to step back and evaluate what steps the oil industry needs to take to adequately protect workers lives as well as the environment. Quit thinking with your greed Senator Vitter.

    May 30, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Baked Alaska

    We could keep drilling IF anyone in the world knew how to either prevent a catastrophy or deal with one effectively withing a day or two. The problem is, NO ONE KNOWS WHAT TO DO to stop this. Personally I hope BP is financially devistated to the point of extinction. That might be a wake-up call to all the other oil companies and their "risk management" teams.

    May 30, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  20. zack

    he is right. unless we as americans are willing to pay 10+ a galon for gas, we need to continue AND EXPAND domestic production – which includes offshore drilling. electric cars and such are nice, but they have limited range and aren't practical for pulling heavy loads such as diesel trucks. like it or not, we're married to oil for at least the next 50 years.

    May 30, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. grrouse

    I am watching State of the Union and I can not believe the HYPROCIST seen coming for the Republican Party. They have seems to believe government have money to help out all their corporations like, BP, Wall Street, and policing the country, but never no money for the American people. Look how quick the Republicans are saying the President Obama needs to do more to help out BP, but Republicans party STILL don’t won’t the American people to have HEALTH CARE FOR ALL. Republicans do not hide the fact that they believe in big government as long as government is helping out big corporations and making sure big corporation running around doing everything they want with out any regulations what so every. Government job to the Republican Party is to have no regulations, but when the big corporations get in trouble lets get the government to bail them and let the government continue to police the world. Republican does not believe government is for the people, but they believe government is to BAIL out big corporations when needed. When are you stupid people going to wake up a realize Republicans are not for the people of this county and realize the Republicans are for BIG GOVERNMENT. It is going to cost more then the two wars we are fighting because of the Republicans to clean up this oil spill. Republicans are really being seen as HYPROCITES when they come on TV and critizes the President for not help out the oil company quick enough even though the government doesn’t have the money to do it.

    May 30, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. Viet-nam Vet

    I am waiting for the Rpublicans to blame this on President Clinton as they have been doing for the past 10 years. I would like to see the transcript of the energy meeting that VP Chaney had with big oil, I bet a lot of the problem can be traced to what was agreed to at that meeting. Between North Korea, Iraq, the tradgedy in the gulf and the stupidity of the majority of the American public, I do not give civilization as we know it more than the next generation.

    May 30, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  23. curious steve, boston, ma

    if a plane crashes and burns down the planet, DUH! we should ban flying altogether and at once!

    May 30, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. fred

    bemoaning a perceived failing in the federal response while upholding private enterprise ... is there nothing these partisan hacks won't do to cut down their political rivals, even in the midst of a terrible tragedy thrust upon their own electorate? Shameful and greedy.

    May 30, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. ajax

    The problem with nuclear power as an alternate source of energy is two-fold.One is the safety issues and what harm it could do to the environment if something goes wrong.Two,what are you going to do with all the nuclear waste materials that are created.These concerns are what stopped more development of nuclear power in the past and will do so in the future.I have yet to hear Obama address those issues.I'm all for finding alternate sources of energy but we need to do what we can to bridge the gap till we can get there.

    May 30, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
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