With the BP spill destroying large areas of our coast and expected to move up the East Coast, lawmakers are pushing President Barack Obama to honor his earlier pledge to lift the moratorium on new drilling along our coasts. The oil lobby is pushing for expanded drilling even as the disaster mounts in the Gulf — many are calling the moratorium an “overreaction.”
Lawmakers and lobbyists are returning to the earlier theme that more drilling means more jobs and lower gas prices. For his part, Obama (who previously assured Americans that oil rigs really do not cause spills and opened up the East Coast to drilling) has only promised to freeze drilling for the moment. He has not agreed to rescind his earlier decision to eventually open up the East Coast to drilling rigs and to reaffirm the long-standing moratorium.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., insisted that “to completely shut down deepwater (drilling) and even threaten shallow water is a huge economic blow. And on top of the recession and on top of the hit that the oil is directly making on our economy, that is another big, big economic blow that is going to knock us down.”
Members who previously did the bidding of the oil lobby have been put in something of a pickle as they decry the massive damages from the spill while they fight for more drilling. These members who have some of the lowest environmental voting records have been shown on television expressing horror over the costs of the damage. Of course, it is not just the oil lobby’s main supporters in Congress. Notably, when Congress passed the $75 million cap on damages for oil companies (just a year after the Exxon disaster), not a single member of Congress voted against it.
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