At WSJ, "Public Still Backs Offshore Drilling":
Public support for expanding the offshore hunt for energy is sturdy, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll suggests, even as a damaged well continues to gush crude into the Gulf of Mexico.
Meanwhile, the spill has taken a toll on support for offshore drilling among Senate Democrats, further hobbling the chances for climate-change legislation, which was unveiled by two senators Wednesday.
Six in 10 respondents to a survey carried out from May 6 to May 10 said they backed more drilling for oil off the U.S. coast. Some 34% said they "strongly" supported it, and 26% said they supported it "somewhat."
More than half of respondents —53%—also said they agreed with the statement that "the potential benefits to the economy outweigh the potential harm to the environment." Respondents in Gulf states were slightly more likely to support additional drilling offshore, with 63% of them saying they would approve of more rigs. The poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
"Stuff happens like that, you still have to press forward, in my opinion," said David Mundy, a retiree in Mitchell, Ind. "We've got to get out of this dependence on oil from foreign countries."
Jane Oakes, an attorney living near Asheville, N.C., said she didn't see that there was a greater risk of accidents involving oil rigs than with tankers importing oil from overseas.
Many respondents said they wanted to see offshore drilling "controlled" in some way, but appeared confident that the risk of future accidents could be reduced and any damage from them limited.
"I'm surprised that the problem hasn't been resolved already," said Linn McCormack, a homemaker in northern New Jersey.
The muted public response to the disaster is a blow for environmental groups as they ready themselves for the energy debate. "If this isn't what it takes, what would it take?" said Neil Shader, a spokesman for the Wilderness Society, which advocates for public-land protection.
The disaster in the Gulf has complicated the Obama administration's push for an energy bill that addresses climate change.
President Barack Obama, Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I., Conn.) had hoped to use support for more offshore drilling as a chip to win Republican votes for a broader bill aimed at cutting U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions 80% by 2050.