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As Tar Balls Wash Up On Gulf Coast, Support For Drilling Plummets In North Carolina

By Alex Seitz-Wald  

"As Tar Balls Wash Up On Gulf Coast, Support For Drilling Plummets In North Carolina"

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As BP attempts to once again plug the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, balls of tar have begun washing up on the “prized white sands” of the Louisiana and Alabama coasts, alongside dead dolphins, sea turtles and 600 dead catfish. The Coast Guard released these photos yesterday of tar on Raccoon Island in Louisiana, “a protected bird breeding sanctuary with a variety of breeds“:

TarBalls6

As ThinkProgress has noted, a number former pro-drilling advocates from affected states have reconsidered their support in the wake of the disaster. In Florida, which could face major economic fallout from the spill, Gov. Charlie Crist (I) said the disaster convinced him that offshore drilling “certainly isn’t safe enough,” and today called for a constitutional amendment to ban drilling off his state’s coast. A majority of voters in Florida now oppose drilling, in “stark contrast” to a poll from last year which showed majority support.

A new PPP poll shows that even in North Carolina, which is not likely to be directly affected by the spill, support for drilling has fallen off precipitously:

In April 61% of voters said they supported it with only 26% opposed. Now in the wake of the spill in the Gulf support has declined to 47% with 38% of voters against it. This is the first time PPP has ever found less than majority support for drilling in the state.

It’s unusual to see that big a change in how North Carolinians feels about a particular issue in such a short period of time, but it’s clear the spill has given many voters in the state second thoughts. 50% said it made them less supportive of allowing drilling off the state’s coast, compared to 28% who said it made no difference, and 22% who said the spill actually made them more supportive of drilling here.

PPP notes that the tumble in support for drilling has “come across party lines,” with a 17 point drop among independents, a 16 point drop among Democrats, and an 11 point drop among Republicans. A recent Rasmussen poll found that support for oil drilling nationally has “fallen dramatically” since the spill.

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