Acadiana Business

Drilling support back up to pre-spill levels

by Leslie Turk

A new Pew report finds that support for offshore drilling, which plummeted in the wake of the BP disaster, is back, thanks to rising gasoline prices.
Amazing what impact rising gasoline prices will have on the public's support for offshore drilling. A March 7-11 national survey of 1,503 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds that support for allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters, which plummeted during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, has recovered to pre-spill levels. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) favor allowing increased offshore drilling, up from 57 percent a year ago and 44 percent in June 2010, during the Gulf spill.

With gasoline prices rising, the public's energy priorities are shifting. More Americans continue to view the development of alternative energy sources as a higher priority than the increased production of oil, coal and natural gas, but the study reveals that the gap has narrowed considerably in the past year. The survey found that 52 percent (versus 63 percent in March 2011) say the more important priority for addressing the nation's energy supply is to develop alternative sources, such as wind, solar and hydrogen technology, while 39 percent (versus 29 percent in March 2011) see expanding the exploration and production of oil, coal and natural gas as the greater priority.

Speaking in Cushing, Okla., Thursday morning, President Barack Obama said he plans to fast-track the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline. The president said he will expedite a 485-mile line from Oklahoma to refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast, but he is still blocking the northern part of Keystone that would connect the U.S. to oil supplies in Canada.

Read more on the Pew survey here.