Weeks after the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Newt Gingrich still continued his “Drill Here, Drill Now” mantra, writing that “human progress is not without risk” and that “[o]ffshore drilling is no exception.” But given the fact that the oil leak at BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig continues unabated, pouring more than 200,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf every day and is “already far larger” than the Exxon Valdez crash, Gingrich is holding firm.
At the NRA’s annual conference in Charlotte, NC, yesterday, ThinkProgress asked Gingrich if he still accepts this level of risk to continue offshore drilling:
TP: So given the scale of the oil spill in the gulf, do you still think that it represents an acceptable risk to continue offshore drilling?
GINGRICH: Yes. … One oil spill since 1969 with 4,000 wells. If the Coast Guard had a reasonable research program, we’d be much further down the road to solving this kind of thing.
ThinkProgess also asked the former GOP House Speaker if he agrees with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s (R) recent campaign to encourage tourists to visit gulf beaches despite oil and dead sea animals washing ashore. While Gingrich hesitated for a moment, he replied, “Of course.” Watch the interview:
While it’s unclear which “4,000 wells” Gingrich was referring to, his claim that there has only been one spill since 1969 is not accurate, as the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has noted:
Between 1992 and 1998 there were 319 failures of blowout preventers found in US offshore drilling, an average of 45 a year. [MMS, 1999] Between 1992 and 2006 there were at least 39 blowouts off the US coastline, 38 of them in the Gulf of Mexico. [MMS, 7/07] From 2007 to 2009 there were 19 blowouts, all in the Gulf of Mexico. [MMS]
Moreover, the largest accidental oil spill in history was a Gulf of Mexico exploratory rig blowout in 1979 and other major offshore spills have occurred elsewhere around the world. In “one of Australia’s worst oil disasters,” a PTTEP oil rig blew out in the Montara deepwater oil field on August 21, 2009.
This morning, Newt Gingrich sat for a softball interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace to discuss his new book. Wallace never asked Gingrich — the originator of the “drill here, drill now, pay less” slogan — about the oil spill.