June 9, 2010

Sen. Mary Landrieu even after all of the devastation in her state is calling for the moratorium on offshore drilling to be lifted. Landrieu is now calling for stronger regulation of the industry but says that stronger regulations won't make any difference if they're not enforced. Of course that's true but this is the same woman who back in November of 2009 was downplaying the impact of any spill in the Gulf during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing and lecturing the president of SkyTruth John Amos about the size of the oil spill in Australia.

During the hearing, Landrieu attacked the testimony of John Amos, president of SkyTruth, a group which monitors environmental conditions through satellite images, regarding the impact of the Australian spill. Though current estimates of the spill's magnitude range from 1.2 million to 9 million gallons, Landrieu insisted that it was 823,000 gallons.

"She was accusing SkyTruth of not being truthful," Amos tells HuffPost. "She took a photo [of the spill] produced by Sen. Menendez's staff, she pointed at it and said, 'The fact is, these things happen.' I was speechless."

At a hearing last month held by the same committee to discuss drilling, Landrieu repeated her line about the reflecting pool, adding:

I mean, just the gallons are so minuscule compared to the benefits of U.S. strength and security, the benefits of job creation and energy security. So while there are risks associated with everything, I think you understand that they are quite, quite minimal.

HuffPost asked Landrieu whether she still stands by her comments and whether she supports new safety regulations proposed by the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling, which are opposed by the oil industry, as first reported by HuffPost on Monday.

In response, the senator's office said she does support MMS's proposed safety rules and issued this statement:

Senator Landrieu has been very supportive of Secretary Salazar and believes that the MMS and the Coast Guard have generally been good stewards of human safety with respect to the oil and gas industry. The Senator has said repeatedly that what happened in the Gulf last week is a tragedy and should be fully investigated to find out what went wrong and how it can be prevented in the future.

But she also firmly believes that this accident should not be used as an excuse to abandon plans to make America more energy secure.

Consider the alternative: to stop all domestic offshore drilling. That would only export America's oil and gas production activities -- and the attendant jobs that go with it -- overseas to countries that have neither the will, nor the resources, to address the environmental impacts.

Even with the development of alternative energy sources, the United States will still need oil into the foreseeable future. With no offshore domestic production, that oil would be tankered from overseas into the United States. The one thing we do know is that such a policy would do nothing to protect our shores. In fact, the National Academies of Science has found that while drilling and extraction account for less than 1 percent of all the oil that enters the marine environment, tankering accounts for four times that much.

Over a month later and she hasn't changed her tune yet. She claims that we have some of the strictest regulations in the world, which we don't and that drilling can still be done safely and then says the regulations weren't being enforced in the next breath. Just shameless. I'm sure she'll do her best to make sure anything they do put in place doesn't have any teeth so she can blame the government for the oversight failures again when something else goes wrong.

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