Conservatives Echo McCain’s False Claim That Katrina Caused No Oil Spill Damage

In a Tuesday speech delivered before an audience of oil executives, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pushed to overturn the federal ban on offshore oil drilling. McCain claimed drilling is so “safe” that “not even Hurricane Katrina and Rita could cause significant spillage from battered rigs off the coasts of New Orleans and Houston.” Watch it:

Picking up McCain’s talking points, a growing chorus of conservatives have repeated this claim as justification for expanded drilling:

George Will: “Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed or damaged hundreds of drilling rigs without causing a large spill.”

Wall Street Journal editorial: “Hurricanes Katrina and Rita flattened terminals across the Gulf of Mexico but didn’t cause a single oil spill.”

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne: “When Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast where we have about 4,000 oil and gas platforms, 3,000 were in the direct line of the storms – the most significant storms we’ve seen ever – and 3,000 of those had to be shut down. We had no significant oil spill. The system worked.”

Fox News’ Dick Morris: “And by the way, the safety concerns, Hurricane Katrina didn’t cause any leakage or any spill in the Gulf of Mexico oil wells.”

The truth is that Hurricane Katrina caused oil spillage so significant it was clearly visible from space. It also wreaked environmental havoc near the scale of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

The Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson explains the disastrous extent of Katrina’s wreckage of Gulf oil facilities.

Lee Fang