June 7th, 2010
02:46 PM ET
13 years ago

Poll: Oil spill a major disaster


Workers clean up oil residue on Pensacola Beach in Florida. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)

Washington (CNN) - Nearly three out of four Americans say the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a major environmental disaster, and a majority wants legal action against BP and its partners, according to a new national poll.

An ABC News/Washington Post survey released Monday indicates that 73 percent of the public considers the spill a major environmental disaster, with one in four saying it's a serious problem but not an environmental disaster.

Fifty-one percent of people questioned in the poll say that they feel strongly that the federal government should pursue criminal charges against BP and the other companies involved in the spill, with another 14 percent saying they feel somewhat strongly that Washington should pursue criminal charges, and 28 percent saying no to such action.

The Justice Department launched both criminal and civil investigations into the disaster in recent days.

According to the survey, nearly seven in ten say the federal government's done a not so good or poor job handling the spill, with more than eight in ten giving BP a thumbs down. The poll indicates that this dissatisfaction crosses party lines.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted June 3-6, with 1,004 adults questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: Energy
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. ConsiderThis - FL

    BP, Transocean and Halliburton have all caused injury to the residents of the Gulf Coast in the form of lost jobs, lost wages, lost business, lost property/property values, emotional stress and psychological suffering; not to mention the physical damage done to one of the country's most beautiful coastlines. America has laws that say if someone causes injury to another person and that someone had a reasonable duty to prevent such injury, then that someone is guilty of negligence and must pay to remedy the injury. Case closed. BP, Transocean and Halliburton MUST PAY not only money, but their decision-makers, who intentionally decided to be negligent, should serve time in prison for the crimes that they have committed. If an individual citizen caused a miniscule amount of injury to another person, that citizen would have to pay, and perhaps, serve time; depending on the injury. If BP, Transocean and Halliburton get away with not having to atone for the injury that they've caused, our laws are meaningless and are only used to control the common man.

    June 7, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. alex in wisconsin

    Hey Obama,Congress, anyone...i just had a very unoriginal idea. howabout you offer lots and lots of jobs to participate in the clean-up of the gulf region. I know, thats more government spending but seriously, even the republican governors, with the exception of barbour, are begging for help on this one.

    June 7, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. AEK

    Somebody needs to go to jail!

    June 7, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    7 Americans were killed in Afghan today, does anyone care or is oil more important. Our military men and women are dying everyday while Americans are crying and fighting over spilled oil and money.

    June 7, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  5. Alex

    I love these polls – they consistently reveal that 15-25% of the country is idiotic.

    June 7, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  6. katiec

    There should most certainly be criminal charges against BP, Halliburton and any other business involved in this castrophe.
    There most certainly was negligence, cost cutting and complete lack of back up plans, safety procedures. It even continues after the spill with no concern given to the safety of those trying to clean up this hazard.
    It is past time to make big businss accountable.

    June 7, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. all the news that's fit to omit

    BP takes most of the blame for the spill and should pay for all.

    Oweblamo and Sallazaar deserve some blame also because THEY (not BUSH) eased inspections and regulations on this very site LAST YEAR.

    Oweblamo deserves MOST of the blame on the cleanup as this TIME we had a Governor who had a clue and the President IGNORED his requests for permits to STOP the spread.

    Along with his other "take your time" actions and concert going, campaigning and golfing and general "I don't care about these people because they don't vote for me" attitude ALL ON THE NO LEADERSHIP president (no cap deserved)......................

    No executive experience AT ALL, we warned you fools, you BETCHA.

    June 7, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. Pam

    How is that only 7 out of 10 people feel that this spill is a major environmental disaster? Where are the other 30%?
    We have just seen the tip of the iceburg so far. It will get much worse and will take years to clean up.
    FYI, in the nicest possible way Don in Iowa, the word is spelled ridicules. Your comments are always relevant. I just thought you might want to know. I am not part of the spelling police who discount what people have to say just because they make a typo or can't spell a cetain word.

    June 7, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. Blink

    The Federal Government has done a worse job than Katrina. Its pathetic but its kind of like immigration – no one from the north gives a rip because its not their border or their coast that is being ruined.

    June 7, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  10. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    "Major environmental disaster" Hmmm... Ya think??? As for criminal matters, this is the wealthy elite and the American criminal justice system we're talking about here. If anyone sees the inside of a cell, it'll be Joe Twelvepack who pulled the wrong lever, not Joe Numbered Account in the Caymans. Have a nice day!

    June 7, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Slick William

    Let's see, back in 1973 when OPEC hit us with an embargo our Government was supposed to come up with an energy plan that would ween us of foreign oil. Now here we are in 2010 still suckling on the Arab nipple, we have a myriad of alternate fuel sources, solar, wind, hydraulics etc., even though they could only replace about 15% of our daily appetite. Why has our government failed to be implementing ALL avenues, hmmmmm, I read that 1/2 the Federal judges on the gulf coast were deemed to have conflicts of interest with the oil companies, aka investments. If the judges are cashing in, what do you think the political leaders of both parties have been doing? Our two party system is so corrupted by special interest monies that it is beyond dysfunctional, it no longer serves the people in the framework set by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, it cannot be fixed until DC is cleared of these corrupt special interest louts and their political cohorts and common sense and ethics are re-established within our political framework! By the way, how are all those private sector jobs coming along we paid a trillion dollars for?

    June 7, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  12. Joshua College Station, TX

    I have one question. Why are we allowing BP to work so hard to collect oil from the spewing wellhead? Isn't it MORE IMPORTANT TO STOP THE LEAK? It has been established by BP representatives on the news that the wellhead and the ground pipe can support the pressure if the flow is stopped. So, if that is the case, WHY NOT JUST STOP THE LEAK? Why are they trying so hard to find a solution that allows them to collect the oil, when the flow just NEEDS TO STOP?! The answer is profits, and weak government intervention on the matter. Forget profits!!! Stop the leak!!!

    If the emphasis was on STOPPING THE FLOW INSTEAD OF COLLECTING OIL, the engineering becomes much simpler. I could design what amounts to a giant cork to be inserted into the unevenly cut pipe at the top of the wellhead, stopping the flow. The cork would be made of pressure resistant, expanding materials. The core could be hardened rubber. The next outer layer could be semi-hardened neoprene rubber or some other rigid but flexible substance. The outer layer could be coated with teflon. The cork would have a simple laterally leveraged clamping system attached to it. The clamp would have a few hooks that insert under the riser end plates below and a lever on each side of the clamp would allow the cork to be slowly and carefully inserted into the pipe hole. It would close in the same way as a fruit-preserving Mason jar does, the ones with the wire lever. The lever action could be easily operated by those remote-controlled submarines. BP CAN DESIGN THIS EASILY.

    Another design would be a split metal box that would be hinged on one side and close around the end of the pipe. The box would only be larger than the pipe end plus the plate below by a foot or two on each side, and have a hole on the bottom where the pipe would fit. The top and sides would be absolutely closed, and might have a vent or two to allow for oil escape during attachment and fitting until the box is fitted and the vents can be closed. It would be filled with compressible rubber that can withstand high pressures. It would be prefabbed to the shape of the cut riser plus the bottom plate. The box would be lowered, open, and half of it would be pressed onto the side of the pipe and bottom plate. Then the box would be closed on its hinge. It would have a very heavy lever that locks shut. Oil could seep out the vents until the box is closed shut. Then the vents could be closed. DONE. NO LEAK. EASY. BP CAN DO THIS TOO.

    June 7, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  13. Marie MD

    Yeah, that drill baby drill fiasco is sure working well. Now we have a natural gas explosion in TX. It's horrible!
    Why isn't BP trying harder to stop the leak? That $50M they wasted on those useless commercials could have best been put to use as barriers from the wetlands and our beaches.
    That CEO better stay put because I don't want him to get his life back until the oil rig is capped and until the environment and those people who have lost their livelihood come back again.
    Meaning that this job should a punishment for the rest of his sorry life!

    June 7, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. ToldUSo

    While campaigning Obama criticized the Bush Admin for their handling of Katrina, even though LA had an inept Gov and Mayor of New Orleans sitting on their butts doing nothing! and knowing full well that the Federal Govt cannot give help or enter into a state until the idiot Gov of LA declares a state of emergency which she would not do!

    Well since the Messiah Obama took office we have had numerous terrorist attacks, all unsuccessful due to sheer luck (now that change!), and now this oil spill that has been going on while Obama , campaign, vacation, play golf, meet sports team, have big lavish state dinners, have lavish awards dinners with Hollywood & a British pop-star over to serenade Michelle-my-bell & disparage a former president (who has an MBA fr Harvard), while his country's British Oil company pollutes our pristine environment on the gulf coast!

    So let me quote you Mr Obama, if you cannot handle any crisis, such as the ones you are facing, how can you handle a dirty bomb going off in Times Square?

    June 7, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Tom C

    What idiots in the survey would say this is not a national disaster. Guess who else is deeply involved with this disaster? Haliburton had a huge hand in this also. Remember them?

    June 7, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. Max In NY

    I have a serious question: what would it take to convince the other 25% that this is a tremendous disaster?

    This is exactly why people don't believe in global warming, and the US won't get off oil until there's only a few barrels left in the crust of this planet.

    Humans act like viruses...no wait, worse than viruses, viruses consume their host (we consume our environment/natural resources)...and we have the knowledge and technology to act responsible and use renewable resources...instead we CHOOSE to use dirty fuels. And the cost (counter) argument is really irrelevant because although the cost at the pump may be $3/gallon...the price is in fact about 5x higher when you factor in subsidies and all the money we spend to fight in the middle east.

    June 7, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. 123abc

    This photo looks like workers raking up sargasm weed (a kind of floating seaweed that comes ashore florida beaches every year), and not at all like anyone cleaning up oil residue.

    June 7, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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