Despite the serious unanswered questions about the safety of offshore drilling the BP spill has highlighted, a number of prominent conservative leaders have doubled down on their calls for an immediate expansion of drilling, even before the investigation of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is complete. One such leader is Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). His state has been hit the hardest by the Gulf spill, yet Jindal wrote a letter to President Obama earlier this month “criticizing his decision to implement a temporary moratorium of deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico” and calling for more drilling now.
In an interview with ThinkProgress this morning, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said Jindal’s call for more dilling in the wake of the disaster would make this his “last term in office,” if he was a West Coast governor:
TP: So I’m curious about your response is to Republicans, conservatives, such as Governor Jindal whose state is clearly being ravaged by the Deepwater Horizon spill, but is still calling for more drilling tomorrow. [...]
MERKLEY: Well I can tell you, if he were governor on the West Coast, it’d be his last term in office. Becasue the senators all came together on the West Coast unanimously — all six, California, Oregon, and Washington — and said that drilling is not in the best interests of our states. … So we don’t want drilling at 30 miles, we don’t want it at 50 miles, we don’t want it at 100 miles, because that oil may end up both foul our commercial fisheries, our ecosystems, and our coastlines, and it’s not a risk worth taking.
Merkley and the five other senators representing the West Coast came together last month to propose legislation that would permanently ban new drilling in the Pacific. They want to restore a moratorium on new leases for offshore drilling in federal waters that was in place from 1981 to 2008. The West Coast has experienced the dangers of massive oil spills first hand. In one of the biggest spills in American history, 200,000 gallons of oil gushed from a well off of Santa Barbara, California for 11 days in 1969. This “environmental nightmare” prompted the congressional moratorium that Merkley and the other senators are trying to reinstate.
ThinkProgress spoke with Merkley before an event at the Center for American Progress on the need to reduce our dependence on oil.