In response to BP's catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama immediately placed a six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling efforts, a move which affected 33 deep-water drilling projects. While many people initially applauded Obama's decision, public sentiment in the U.S. has now changed. The numbers from a recent Bloomberg National Poll paint a vivid picture of American desires to continue extracting the black gold from under the sea bed despite the accident that took place in the Gulf. Bloomberg's results are as follows:
  • 37 percent of respondents now support drilling less than they did before the spill.
  • 79 percent believe that BP should pay for all damages caused by the spill.
  • 44 percent believe that BP is to blame for the spill, 19 percent chalk it up to lax regulations and federal oversight, 22 percent believe that no one should be blamed.
That's all pretty straightforward, but there's reason to call attention to Bloomberg's potentially flawed polling methods on the headline question: "Do you think the spill proves off-shore drilling is just too dangerous and should be banned in U.S. waters, or was this a freak accident and offshore drilling can be made safer and should not be banned?" Twenty-three percent of respondents said that offshore drilling was too dangerous, 73 percent chalked-up the disaster to a freak accident, and four percent weren't sure. While Bloomberg interpreted this result as saying 73 percent of people don't approve of Obama's six-month ban, Grist points out that this isn't really what the question was about (Update: and then there's this). Also, notably absent from the list of choices was the option to place blame on BP for its failure to follow regulations and safety guidelines that could have prevented the catastrophic spill.

J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., an Iowa-based outfit that conducted the survey, offered insight regarding the responses received from the American public. Selzer said:
The fact so many people say it was a freak accident is especially telling. People say BP must pay, but there's no sense of impending doom at the hands of the entire industry. Perhaps because it's gone on so long there's a sense that it is what it is. BP is accountable for what they are accountable for, but any sense of vindication you might look to find is absent.
It's hard to believe that the majority of those polled can honestly consider BP's epic oil spill a "freak accident" especially since that implies no wrongdoing has occurred. You can see the poll here (PDF).

[Source: Bloomberg News via Green Car Congress, Grist | Image of California beach: ingridtaylar – C.C. License 2.0]

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