U.S. public still backs offshore drilling

WASHINGTON Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:05pm EDT

Oil floats on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico around the Transocean Development Driller III, which is drilling a relief well, at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in this June 2, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Sean Gardner

Oil floats on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico around the Transocean Development Driller III, which is drilling a relief well, at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in this June 2, 2010 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Sean Gardner

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A majority of Americans still support offshore drilling on the U.S. coastline despite the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.

The poll also found 89 percent of the U.S. public blame British energy giant BP Plc for the spill, the worst in U.S. history, and 69 percent think the U.S. government is also at fault.

About three-quarters of the public believe neither BP nor the government responded quickly enough to the environmental disaster, which threatens wildlife, fertile fishing grounds and popular tourist beaches along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

"Americans generally are mad, and they blame everyone for this -- whether it's the government or Big Oil, specifically BP," Ipsos pollster Cliff Young said.

A U.S. federal court ruled on Tuesday against President Barack Obama's six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed after an April 20 explosion at an offshore oil rig in the Gulf killed 11 people and triggered the huge spill. The White House promised to appeal.

With the oil still spewing two months later, 56 percent of Americans believe offshore drilling is necessary for the United States to produce its own energy and not rely on other countries for oil, while 38 percent believe it is a bad idea.

The poll found 69 percent have not changed their views on drilling despite the spill, with 24 percent now more opposed and 5 percent more in favor of drilling.

"While people see the problem, they still see the need to drill offshore, at least until there is some sort of longterm solution," Young said. "But the longer people stay mad and the longer this stays around, it might change the fundamental outlook on these things."


Obama, who has been criticized for his response to the spill, has been harshly critical of BP. In an Oval Office speech last week, he said the disaster offered a chance to break the U.S. dependence on fossil fuels and he called on Congress to pass energy legislation this year.

The poll found a huge majority believes BP is at fault for the spill, with 67 percent saying it is "very much" at fault and 22 percent saying it is "somewhat" at fault.

Just 9 percent believe the beleaguered company, which has agreed to create a $20 billion escrow fund to pay out damages and seen its share price drop dramatically, is not at fault.

About 69 percent of the public believe the U.S. government was either very much or somewhat at fault, with 30 percent believing it was not. The government agency that regulates offshore drilling came under heavy fire after the spill, and has been reorganized with a new director.

The poll found 78 percent believe BP did not respond quickly enough to the spill, which it has not been able to stop despite numerous efforts. But the U.S. government barely fared better, with 72 percent believing it did not respond swiftly enough.

The telephone poll of 1,005 Americans was conducted June 17 to 20 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

(Editing by Alistair Bell and Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (23)
IrisMurray wrote:
Who are these people you are polling? Everyone I talk to are livid and do not support deep water offshore drilling. I believe the president is correct to stop this for a period of time to assess what we are doing. Stop killing this planet. People are not willing to make the sacrifices needed to make real change. Raise the dang gas prices and stop polluting our planet.

Jun 22, 2010 4:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
fishskicanoe wrote:
And yet the biggest culprit goes Scot free.

That culprit would be Us.

If there were no gas guzzling cars, no 3000 square foot houses, well maintained and well used public transit,no obstructionism on alternative energy development, as is happening off New England. If we would realize that we are consuming at a non-sustainable rate, that we are asking that the Earth provide a level of luxury that it can not provide, there would be no need for drills in places that are nearly un-repairable.

But as usual people are ready to point fingers at others and not look at themselves in the mirror and do the same.

Jun 22, 2010 4:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
sajanjay1 wrote:
I’m america and I don’t support it. I’m under the belief that there is a monopoly going on every company no matter where they are or how they get oil to market seems to produce oil from deep sea or land at the same price. That is illegal but our judges and government officials don’t enforce the law. So I don’t believe any polls or informatioin they produce all I sea is oil on the coastline.

Jun 22, 2010 4:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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