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

Not rational to give up on offshore drilling, Vitter says

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. charles

    same bla bla bla.... The country is in this mess because of deregulation by republicans. Just quit your job . BP senator!!!!!

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

    With thousands of off shore drilling platforms in the Gulf,accidents of this magnitude are non existant with this exception. So if drilling is stopped because of this, then the President really had no intention of allowing increased drilling to start with, just made the announcement as a PR ploy.

    May 30, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. Irene

    "Never been done at this depth before"...

    If that is BP's excuse for everything it tries in trying to cap this is a poor one. Don't drill in depths that can't effectively be dealt with when thing go wrong!

    Greed and lack of oversight....they go hand in hand. Our government needs to take a look at itself, too, to see how this disaster was even allowed to happen in the first place!

    May 30, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. jean

    This disaster is rooted in greed. Everyone is pointing blame at BP, rightfully so. However, the real corporates are the republicans who deregulated the oil industry. One of many of the real corporates in this disaster is Cheney. There need to be an investigation of what went on during those close-door oil meetings.

    May 30, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  5. JonDie

    Frank in valparaiso indiana wrote:

    "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."

    Do you really think the science-illiterate folks like Sarah Palin, who think the Earth is flat and 6,000 years old, can actually do the math? They're not rocket scientists, you know, and you're throwing your fancy advanced, theoretical mathematics at them (we use 25%, we own 2%).

    May 30, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Senator Vitter has to be out of his mind to suggest these disaster should not be a reason to stop off shore drilling. I think he is blind not to see what the destruction it has caused on the environment and mostly on peoples lives. It is a shame for a senator to even suggest the idea instead of thinking for the people of his state and the long term effect of the disaster. I think he should apologize to the people of his state for suggesting to go on with off shore drilling and simply being heartless. I think the president is right to put a halt to off shore until we find out what caused the spill and how we can stop it and learn from it if we decide to go on with off shore drilling in the future. Senator Vitter stop blaming the administration. If you support off shore drilling I bet you you gave it your blessing when BP built it near your state and it was your responsibility to ask what the solution will be if a disaster happens. The Republicans have to learn from being a party of blame and a party that believes in bipartisanship. BP caused the problem and they are the experts to stop it. People crying and the Republicans adding fuel to the problem are putting a blame on the administration to take drastic measures as put the military to work. The military did not cause the problem. BP caused it because they got away with relaxed regulations, no accountability and I am pretty sure Senator Vitter was aware of what was going on. I just pray the clean up and leakage is stopped so the people of the Gulf Coast can start cleaning up and start to build there lives back to normal. God Bless.

    May 30, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  7. NVa Native

    Why do the neo-cons & tea-baggers think the oil companies own our "off shore" oil? It doesn't belong to the oil companies, It belongs to US. The oil companies take our oil and sell it to the highest bidder who could be anywhere in the world, and they take billions of dollars in proffits. they don't care about anything except their own proffit – BP's negligence is only the most recent proof of this.
    We don't owe them, they owe us.

    May 30, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. Richie

    Comparing the killing of thousands of square miles of the environment to a plane crash is absurd. In particular, for the most part, people killed in plane crashes knew the risk and accepted it. NOT ONE of the creatures in the gulf had one bit of say about whether BP was allowed to kill them. The idea that humans killing each other or themselves is on a par with humans destroying life on this planet is revolting.

    May 30, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. once upon a horse

    seems like the GOP is sort of caught on this one......President Obama was in favor of starting some offshore drilling a great cry of "Drill baby drill" that the Repubs loved and some of his own party on the left were angered by. NOW with this spill what can they do..go against the president like they've done on everything so far will make them look like bigger fools than ever...but then agreeing with him on something goes against wanting him to fail. So the only thing they can do is moan about his response on the matter, well they had to do something negative of course being the party of NO. Vitter is trying to CYA for the GOP and not looking very good doing it so far.

    May 30, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  10. gg

    bet he would not live within two hundred miles of a nuclear plant

    May 30, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  11. Ben

    Larry – "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."

    And the Democrats aren't just as corrupt and transparent? Please. Get a grip.

    May 30, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  12. Chris in Las Vegas

    Senator, you agruement about a plane crash and air travel is idiotic! A plane crash while a tradgedy does not continue ti kill after the accident. This accident had continued to do damages for weeks now and it is not stopping!! The accident is going to effect the southern coastline and the oceanic eco system for decades. What happens if they still cant stop it, and oil starts going up the eastern seaboard? A plane accident kills and then it is over, this will continue for who knows how long!!

    May 30, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  13. D. Bunker

    This is all just political posturing where corporatist politicians like Vitter try to convince us they support the public and not predatory capitalists. When the VItters of the world (the GOP and blue dog Dems) start supporting tougher regulations, a hard push towards a green economy (China is killing us on that right now), a carbon tax and the "death penalty" for corporate "citizens" then we'll have change we can believe in. Until those things occur, I don't believe a word out Diaperman's mouth.

    May 30, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  14. Ryan

    Um, and it's rational to ruin our shores with these negligent acts of bio terrorism and think our economy and fishing industry can afford these mistakes? Who threw the moron party??

    May 30, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. ClintonFan

    There is no logic to his agrument. Pretty soon we will destroy the whole planet if these Republicans keep getting their way.

    May 30, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  16. GaryOwen27

    We should not be drilling and extracting U.S. oil reserves in the first place.

    THAT, is our stratigic reserve.

    Oil is more than abuntant and cheap on the world market.

    Why use, and oh by the way, EXPORT our oil?

    People that advocate current domestic oil production are morons, there may come a time when we will need all the domestic oil we can get.

    May 30, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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