Gulf Coast Lawmakers Mixed on Suspending Drilling

As oil keeps spewing into the Gulf of Mexico — area lawmakers on both
sides of the offshore drilling debate are arguing over what should be done.
Manuel Quinones reports from Washington.

Lawmakers, environmental activists and communities that depend on the Gulf Coast economy worry this spill could rival the Exxon Valdez incident.

Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson is blasting new attempts to expand offshore drilling. He wants the Interior Department to investigate and compile U.S. oil drilling accidents over the past decade and is skeptical of the industry’s safety claims. He also wants Congress — including the Senate Commerce Committee where he serves — to investigate the current disaster.

“I am very worried about the environmental effects and economic effects on our beach tourism.”

Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison says Gulf drilling is not as bad as some people are now making it out to be.

“The safety record and the spill record in the Gulf of Mexico has been very very good. And it’s a great source of energy for our country. And we always need to work to improve it and make it as safe as it can be.”

Houston area Democrat Gene Green also wants Congress to look into what happened. But he still supports the expansion of offshore drilling. He says America must have the energy.

“We need to produce it domestically. But we need to do it clean, we need to do it safe. Because as I said, I have constituents on the rigs in the Gulf of Mexico now.”

The White House just announced its intent on hold off on any new offshore drilling efforts until a probe of the explosion is complete.

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