May 30th, 2010
12:06 PM ET
4 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. Stephen

    I can't imagine how much money Mr. VItter's campaign must have received from big oil, for him to behave like such an idiot, right now, as billions upon billions of gallons of oil continue to spill out into the oceans, and no one has any idea how to stop it.

    What an idot.

    May 30, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. Jim in Idaho

    Vitter compares stopping drilling with stopping air travel when an accident occurs. If Vitter thinks than any single plane crash in history has had the same impact on our daily lives as this devastation––which will cause problems in the environment for decades––then he's even more stupid than his scandal-ridden past would indicate.

    One airplnae crash, through tragic, cannot wreak this kind of lasting damage. That's why air travel doesn't get suspended.

    What a political–and human–moron.

    May 30, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. 228rory

    "Drill Baby Drill!"

    Made me sick during the 08 campaign, makes me sick today. Now it will make countless species of wildlife, large portion of Earth's ecology, and the economy of the south (the majority of which were chanting "drill baby drill" in the first place), sick as well.

    Repugs, out of touch much?

    May 30, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. Ann

    Of course, this is the vicious circle, we've come full circle in this argument. We need oil, so we will continue to destroy our Earth. This oil spill erases several years of attempting to clean our environment in one fell swoop. Humans will always come up with reasons to destroy our Earth, and ourselves along with it.

    May 30, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Accident or Negligence...?

    "The Oil Spill" BP spokespersons call the spill an accident and we beg to differ it was negligence of mega proportion. It is quite evident that BP and the oil & gas industry as a whole does not have the equipment nor the technology to deal with any emergency of this kind.
    Therefore, the question in all this is also where was the Federal Government when They approved these drilling licences??

    "BP" we know that top kill is the method used in drilling for oil-wells!!
    What made you think thay top kill would work in reverse..? Except buying time to improvise....again to do what...?????????????????

    May 30, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. Rog

    Hey Senator,
    Where was the oversight on these companies. Where you to busy saying NO!!!!! Hindsight is 20/20.

    May 30, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. Albert Einstein

    They could go to shallow water.

    May 30, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. Rog

    Hey Senator,
    Where was the oversight on these companies. Were you to busy saying NO!!!!! Hindsight is 20/20.

    May 30, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. phoenix86

    I wonder how many of these people posting here to "go green" or stop drilling will feel comfortable paying over $8.00/gallon for gasoline or having their electricity bills go up over 500%. My guess is not many, but that generally doesn't stop the fringe left from spouting opinnions without any thought.

    May 30, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. Gil

    Totally wrong! Just another reason why republican incumbents need to be swept out of office this November. Look at where our crisis have been the past year, Banking, business, Wall Street and now big oil. Why? The 8 years of bush and the republicans were 8 years of big deregulations of all of these!

    May 30, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    They will blame this President for everything no matter what its like dang if he does dang if he dont,.

    May 30, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Karl in Charleston,SC

    What he's saying is we need safer drilling.

    May 30, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. SteveB

    So, um, stopped taking you or anything you said seriously long ago.

    May 30, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Jeff

    The plane crash analogy that the Republicans keep using is false equivalence. We're talking about risk vs. benefit here. For one thing, the probability of a plane crash is far lower than the probability of an oil spill. There are 30,000 commercial flights in the United States alone every single day, and only maybe one per year ever crashes (for odds of about 1 in 10 million). Moreover, the aviation industry has been working continuously to increase safety and reduce crashes for decades, to great effect.

    Meanwhile, something like 1 in 100 offshore oil wells have either sunk, exploded or otherwise had a major accident. That is just not a comparable safety record to flying. And the damage that an exploded oil rig can do is staggering. Plane crashes are tragedies that affect hundreds of people. Oil rig explosions are tragedies that affect millions of people. Again, not comparable.

    There's a certain level of acceptable risk in flying (though it's very low) because the benefits to society are so great. Flying has made the world smaller, and it's allowed families to reunite, economies to grow and people around the world to understand each other better through direct contact. On the other hand, offshore oil drilling allows gas prices to be 3 or 4 cents lower.

    There is simply no compelling argument that the benefits of offshore oil drilling outweigh the risks. It is time to end offshore oil drilling completely. Now.

    May 30, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. ib

    Nothing like blaming the GOP and Bush for Obama foul ups. this well was permitted under Obama not Bush. Obama is playing basketball and doing nothing while the libs are still blaming Bush.

    May 30, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. Roger

    What? altough an airplane crash is terrible, it won 't affect the enviorment for decades like the oil gushing. Another typical republicon statement. Comparing the oil disaster to an airplane crash is like comaring an ice cream cone to a bicycle seat.

    May 30, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  17. L

    While several have commented how the aviation analogy is inappropriate, it is also wrong.

    There have been several instances where a particular model of plane has been grounded when a crash reveals a serious design flaw. Airlines must then repair the defect before using that model again.

    Also, we grounded all airplanes on 9.11 until we were able to determine that the risk of additional terrorism was over.

    So... it's not unprecedented to issue a moratorium on deep water drilling until we understand what happened and have in place better measures to prevent a repetition of this disaster.

    May 30, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. Rick

    open the files with cheney and the oil companies

    May 30, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  19. Robrob

    "after every plane crash, you and I should both oppose plane travel" is a false analogy. Millions fly safely every day. Very few people die each year in planes. OTOH, how predictably safe are offshore wells and if we have other land based alternatives, maybe those should be explored.

    We have 2% of the world's oil but we use 25% of the world's oil.

    Anyone can figure the math.

    May 30, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. Steve

    ""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..."

    Poor, poor analogy.

    When I get on a plane, the choice (and consequences) are mine. Crashes very rarely involve ground-based casualties.

    If every time a plane crashed an ecosystem was destroyed, I assure you there would be no commercial aviation permitted.

    Because you are smart enough to reason that out for yourself, I must assume you are either intellectually lazy, or you purposely chose this comparison to obfuscate and mislead the discussion.

    May 30, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Landrieu AND Vitter are totally useless. I hope both of them lose the next elections.

    May 30, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  22. mr america

    ...if every time a plane crashed, it destroyed hundreds of square miles and thousands of people's livelihood, perhaps we would ban them....fool.

    May 30, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. Smith in Oregon

    When Big Oil added LEAD to Gasoline instead of knowingly adding a safe substitute Ethanol Grain Alcohol, 7 Million TONs of Poisonous LEAD was deposited across America alone. Causing unlimited health problems and suffering to countless family's.

    When Bush sr. crassly ordered Big Oil to add carcinogenic poisonous Wood Alcohol (Methanol) as a 10% additive to Gasoline, countless fresh water wells, aquafurs, and supply's were poisoned and remain poisoned.

    Many of the Petrol-Chemicals in crude Oil are toxic, poisonous and carcinogenic. The current enormous heavy crude Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is in the same region where 40% of the seafood consumed around the world is cultivated and brought from. That region will certainly see a huge decrease in all aquatic life.

    And this nut-sack is suggesting it is not 'rational' to give up on offshore drilling? How rational is it for Big Oil to continue to be allowed to poison the American people? Poison the air with LEAD, Poison the water with Methanol and now Poison the seafood with Benzene, Tolinol and other carcinogenic Petrol-Chemicals?

    May 30, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Discernment

    Republican Senator David Vitter quote:
    "By the same token, after every plane crash, you and I should both oppose plane travel. I don't think that is rational."
    – - –
    What kind of 'coo-coo nut' is this hypocrite Vitter? He knows very well a plane crash is only local to the crash site, is NOT the same as the BP oil catastrophe spanning the gulf coast and all the industries along Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida borders. Yes, a plane crash incurs a lost of life as did the oil rig, but the BP impact is far wider, deeper, and will impact for decades.

    May 30, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  25. Marie MD

    What an idiot! What planet is this guy from?
    You can't compare a plane crash (while horrific) with an oil rig disaster which will affect wildlife and people's livelihood for years/decades.
    If relief pipes had been installed like they should this would be a moot point.
    I hope the people of LA are smarter than to vote for this guy again. I am sure is still being paid handsomely and his job is not in jeopardy from the oil spill.

    May 30, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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