May 30th, 2010
12:06 PM ET
5 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. Frank in valparaiso indiana

    Hate to tell you this, but prices are set by OPEC. domestic drilling will do NOTHING about this. And since we use 25% of the world's output, and have 2% of the resources, drill baby drill is a pipe dream.

    We need to get some regulators in who WILL shut rigs down when there are problems. Make it a career that pays enough to get the job done. No getting into a revolving door.

    How much is this costing, forget BP is paying for this, look at the marshes, the coastal fisheries that are closed, all the tourism, and we're getting into peak tourism this Memorial Day weekend.

    Other countries have it right, require a relief well for deep wells, and NO offshore Arctic drilling. What do you think it would be like up there?

    Love the clueless comments. Oil goes for transportation, gasoline, aviation fuel. Nuclear and natural gas do nothing to alleviate those needs.

    And cementing a well while putting in a production rig is standard practice. You can get it out later. The oil and gas is under pressure, that's how it comes out. Drilling puts a hole in a reservoir then regulates the pressure. To plug a hole, you put stuff that pushes down on the oil and gas so it stays there. That's the problem here.

    May 30, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  2. gary

    At least the President has the common sense to suspend drilling until we can guarantee that it will be safe and that this kind of accident will not happen again. We'd do the same thing with an airplane crash-stop flying an unsafe plane until we can be sure that the accident won't happen again. If I lived in Louisiana I'd certainly want to be sure this won't happen again. Is this guy a moron or in the pocket of the oil industry? There are some things more important than money and those who paid for your campaign...like the livelihood of people in the fishing industry, the coastline of Louisiana, and so on.

    May 30, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Charlie

    It should be noted that BP did not want this spill, the cost of cleanup plus the lost oil is costing them a lot of money. There is no reason to abandon off-shore drilling. It has been done safely and efficiently for years. Whenever mankind is involved in anything there will be mistakes made. These are called accidents. We don't stop driving because we had an accident. We find out what went wrong and then try to avoid that risk in the future.

    What we are dealing with is risk management. I laugh at the hypocrites who don't want to pollute our pat of the world but support polluting other parts of the world.

    May 30, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. one voice

    When 3% of the worlds oil is the maximum we could ever drill here offshore, it is silly to continue this drilling when the U.S. uses 20% of the worlds oil. Down with foreign oil and lets go clean energy full bore NOW.

    May 30, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  5. TJ

    2% .... Two percent... thats how much of the worlds oil supply that the US has. This oil DOES NOT come directly to the us. It goes on the world market with the rest of the oil. It WILL NOT stop us from buying oil from countries that do not like us very much, it wont even reduce it. But it will however ruin our environment permanently. Stop drilling, let other countries take the risks and we can work on alternatives while buying oil from the global market, which we buy it from regardless.

    May 30, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  6. RJ

    Is it just me, or does it seem that (at least) two prominent supporters of BIG oil have virtually disappeared in the past month or so, since the spil? Where's Miss "Drill here, drill now" Sarah Palin? And what happened to Darth Chaney? Can it be these two are laying low? Or is that lieing low – I never know which? Now would be a good time to ask them about their stand and policies on oil drilling, If they are unwilling to speak up now, I don't think anyone should be too interested in what they have to say later.

    May 30, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. grrouse

    mike May 30th, 2010 12:36 pm ET

    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.
    -------------------------------

    Hey Mike I am so what yu. I could not have say this any better. Why do the Republicans believe the can trick the average American people. They only people that believe the Republican party are the same people that believe Bush was a great President.

    May 30, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  8. Andy from New York

    Obama has failed to adequately respond to the needs of the gulf coast
    in implementing clean up measures. What no one has commented on thus far is that BP is a British company doing business in America. Is
    Obama reluctant to offend the Brits by taking BP to task?? Granted there are laws on the books which make the oil company totally responsible for clean up. But that does not mean that you sit back and wait for them to start organizing clean up procedures. As Commander and Chief, Obama has the power to send in the military and commence cleaning of marshes and coastal areas. Why is he sitting on his hands?? This shows that he is a poor manager and should cost him his job in 2012. I supported him in 2008 but will not in 2012.

    May 30, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. Willow

    "By the same token, after every plane crash, you and I should both oppose plane travel," Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, "....

    Myopic thinking at its best!!!!!
    The death or devastation caused by one plane crash does not equal the disaster of this oil spill....to human life, marine life and the ecological systems of the gulf and surrounding ocean!

    What an idiot!!!!!!

    May 30, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. Remember the Alamo

    Hes lying just to make you not say quits to Ocean drilling. The truth is there is more oil throughOUT the mid-continent STATES of the U.S. to Alaska than there is in the Middle East. Why aren't they going for it. Instead they continue to forge ahead buying foreign oil form the Middle East. Something is terribly wrong with America. When we have oil that would drive the cost of oil per barrel down to pennies. Why again is there only BP Oil furnishing oil to America. All the other oil companies sell their oil to China, Japan, Russia and other latin American countries who hate our guts. Does this make sense. We MUST RID OURSELVES OF ALL INCUMBENTS.

    May 30, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. thor

    During his time in the Senate and running for President,Obama received 77,000 from BP and was the top recepient of BP PAC,according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    May 30, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  12. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    I'm a Democrat, and I agree, there is no RATIONAL REASON to prevent drilling

    SO LONG AS there are severe/extreme CRIMINAL consequences for results like we have gotten from BP,
    These Corporate Officials don't end up having any SIGNIFICANT consequences of any kind. If you took away any future compensation, they still have plenty to live on and, as in this case, they RUIN THE COUNTRY.
    If the honchos and the corporations themselves have financial consequences equal to the most adversely impacted citizens (small motel owners that go out of business because there are no tourists, for instance) AND they get a chance to go to jail in the bargain, you could let them drill for oil till doomsday and NEVER have another catastrophe like this – BECAUSE THEY will suffer as much as everyone else.

    It's all about accountability and Washington, long before Obama has not had the will to serve the citizens. We spend time and money to get them elected and then they take money from corporations and do corporate bidding to the detriment of "We The People."

    May 30, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. David in Dallas

    I never thought I would agree with Vitter, but he is right. The administration reacted with the typical knee-jerk reaction. Obama is not thinking about the number of jobs lost due to the drilling moratorium. Wouldn't it make more sense to have the MMS to conduct all of the safety inspections necessary and allow drilling to go ahead and continue? The U.S. government lost competence and common sense a long time ago.

    May 30, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. 2PACOLYPSENOW

    Of all people to be giving out advice and criticism, DAVID VITTER. You gotta be kidding me. At leas the President has sense enough to stop all drilling temporarily until we can find safer ways, tougher regulations, and come up with failsafe plans that can avoid something like this from happening on anyone else's coastline. But all these GOP and moderate democrats are worried about is more money in their coffers from the oil industry. But yet we keep electing and re-electing these same boobs every 2 and 4 years and wonder why we the American people get what we get from our elected leaders. What does that say about us.

    May 30, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. hobart

    What a tool! Plane crashes kill about 100 people (I have people close to me who died in a plane crash). Had this been a small spill from a single tanker, maybe that would be a valid comparison. But here we have the largest oil spill ever, with no one having a clue how to shut if off. We may have to just wait for it to run dry, decades from now! And this putz wants us to do more of the same, with no safeguards, and no way to clean up mistakes!

    Your fellow Gulf Coasters want the government to swoop in and save the day. Thanks to the loathsome policies of the Republican Party, i.e. letting the oil companies write their own regulations, and making sure that the public buys the myth that government is the enemy so making sure that the government has not the technology nor resources to be able to help, you created your own self fulfilling prophecy.

    Thanks to Republicans, we have this disaster, and thanks to Republicans, we don't have the deep water submersibles needed to go clean it up.

    Why do Republicans HATE America?!

    May 30, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. RoanRoue

    I would respect his opinion a lot more after he has spent a week or two cleaning up the spill. There is more at stake than Cheney's oil profits. The world needs clean, renewable energy, not cheap oil.

    May 30, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. Young American

    Crashing a plane and the explosion of an oil rig have very little in common. The plane doesn't cause an environmental disaster of this proportion–even if every drop of its fuel spilled out and ignited. The plane doesn't keep gushing for a month or more. Planes don't need 3 month relief wells to halt the disaster–a good firefighting team can take care of a plane.

    Besides. Planes have safety procedures that they follow in the case of disaster. Behold the Hudson River incident. BP's safety procedures? Where? In fact, they chastised a worker for calling for help over the public announcement system!

    Two totally different worlds, here. Eventually, we will have to stop flying–we'll run out of fuel. At least, until we find a different one. Just as we'll have to stop drilling in the gulf since we'll run out of oil. This gusher isn't helping our lovely economy.

    May 30, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. RAG

    Vitter has one thing right, there is something not rational going on here...

    May 30, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. John F. Leech

    How about no deep water off shore drilling until AFTER the oil companies can implement adequate safety measures and develop spill mitigation techniques. As is required of airlines, nuclear plant, etc., which is why they are safe.

    What happened in the Gulf is a direct result of deregulation, cutting funding from government regulators, and letting industry police themselves. We got exactly what we deserved, by setting up this disaster in the blind pursuit of oil and profit.

    Once the extent of this oil spill disaster is brought to light, there may well be a complete ban on offshore drilling. Whether it is logical or not, it may be what happens. Maybe until we really learn how to do this correctly, that may be the right answer?

    May 30, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. Brenda

    This disaster makes me want to cry-every time I see/hear anything about it.

    Obama and his Administration are INCOMPETENT--they should have been on this from day one. It took them a WEEK--before they even publicly ackowledged that the explosion occurred.

    I heard someone say that there is actually equipment/trucks that has been used at other locations throughout the world-–that suck up the water through hoses, filter out the oil, and then return the clean water to the ocean--why is this equipment not being used?

    And, where is the empty suit--on vacation AGAIN in Chicago.

    May 30, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    No Vitter, it's like suspending flying because an airplane just crashed and the explosion took out about four major cities.

    May 30, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. gp

    Once we factor in the cost of the the Iraq/Afghanistan war and the damage to the Gulf of Mexico and the economy, how much does a gallon of gas cost us?

    We've spent $1 trillion so far in Irag/Afghanistan and have no end in sight. The Gulf of Mexico is a catastrophe in slow motion. It will take generations for the damages to be fully realized.

    May 30, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. JonDie

    "By the same token, after every plane crash, you and I should both oppose plane travel,"

    Another Republican exercise in Palin logic (no Sarah, gravity and global warming are not the same thing, and no David, plane crashes and MASSIVE oil spills are not the same thing either).

    If I were worried excessively about plane travel, I would stop flying. Actually, I fly very minimally because I don't like how airlines treat their passengers like dirt, which has the double benefit of reducing my pollution footprint.

    May 30, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. Ed

    Well, how about Cheney and the Republicans constantly harping to deregulate safety measures for drilling? You never mentioned that!

    May 30, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  25. WHAT

    When big oil is in your back pocket you will say things like that.

    May 30, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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