Poll: Americans unhappy with BP over Gulf spill
By Carol Forsloff
NEW ORLEANS – Americans are unhappy with the response efforts made by their government and British Petroleum to the oil spilling in the Gulf from the oil rig explosion on April 20 in approximately the same percentages they were following Hurricane Katrina.
The Pew Forum has taken a hard look at American attitudes about the oil spill that has brought hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
In conducting a survey of 994 adults during the period may 6-9, the poll found most Americans see the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico as a major environmental disaster. Almost as many are optimistic the oil spiill will be controlled.
The percentage of those who want offshore drilling has dropped, especially among Democrats; but overall the majority of Americans still favor it.
Poll results also show 54% of those surveyed find the federal government has not acted effectively in responding to the spill. These results mirror those that followed Hurricane Katrina that devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005.
The oil spill has had an effect on how the public looks at energy, with a drop of 9% since the event. Currently 54% say they favor offshore drilling. This contrasts with the 63% in February. Most of that decline has been among Democrats.
While offshore drilling advocacy may be down, other alternatives are also down from February statistics.
There is, however, a significant difference in the perception of whether events such as the present oil spill can be avoided and how the Exxon Valdez disaster was viewed. 74% consider spills unavoidable in 1989 compared with 41% in recent poll results.
The findings can be seen in the graphs presented by the Pew Forum with reference to their results:
British Petroleum gets high negatives on how it is handling the Gulf crisis with 63% gets even more negative ratings for its handling of the oil leak (63% only fair/poor).
How BP looks at its efforts to date is different than the public perception.
As Doug Suttles, spokesperson for the company maintained on May 12, it is “making good progress” in the efforts to clean up the spill and is reaching out to the communities in the Gulf to begin the process of paying initial claims. Suttles said, “We have eight offices set up already. The average payment is $5000.”
A local Louisiana Cajun who has worked in the oil business much of his life agrees with most Americans concerning the oil spill and that it will be cleaned up so folks canl be back to business.
Lionel Louviere of New Iberia, Louisiana is an optimist and pragmatist.
“An unfortunate accident that will make drilling in the Gulf even safer. They will find out why the blow out preventer did not work and make changes as necessary.” Louviere has said.
And about the alternatives for oil that people talk about, “We do need alternative energy but we always wait to the last minute to develop it.”
On Friday, President Obama reviewed changes he said will be taking place in reference to the oil spill saying, “There’s enough blame to go around.”
He went on to report how Thad Allen, the National Incident Commander characterized the oil spill “as a catastrophe.”
On April 30 Admiral Mary Landry was asked if she considered the oil spill to be a potential catastrophe to which she responded, “I wouldn’t call it that. But it is a very serious event.”
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