Pressed by ThinkProgress, Gov. Bob Riley (R-AL) admitted he is reconsidering his support for offshore drilling off his state’s coast in the face of the growing BP oil disaster. Riley embraced Newt Gingrich’s campaign to expand offshore drilling in July, 2008, saying “we need to drill and we need to do it now.” He found it “astonishing” that Congress opposed efforts to lift the moratorium on drilling “because of fear they are so popular with the American people.”
At a press conference this afternoon in Mobile, AL, ThinkProgress asked the governor whether he would reconsider his “Drill, Baby, Drill” stance as the oil spill grows, threatening the destruction of the bayous and beaches of Mobile Bay. After a long pause, Riley answered that he “will have a completely different attitude” if the efforts to protect his state’s shores fail:
That’s a great question. After we get through this, I think all of us can make a better determination than we can now. Because with the resources that have been deployed, and if we can do what I hope we can do in Alabama to mitigate any potential environmental damage here, especially in our estuaries, then I will have a completely different attitude about whether or not it is controllable after something this dramatic happens.
Riley is the third Republican coastal-state governor to reconsider new offshore drilling as the reality of this disaster grows, following Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA).