News & Politics

About that Oil Leak in the Gulf: How Disastrous Is It?


It turns out, we pretty much all see the oil spill in the Gulf as a major disaster, reports Pew Research. And that’s sort of heartening, because the only thing worse than a ruptured well in the Gulf leaking 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the water and up onto the shores would be people running around thinking that was, like, no biggie, right?

More than half (55%) of the public say the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is a major environmental disaster; another 37% see it as a serious problem — but not a disaster. Just 4% say it is not too serious.

Also, the closer you follow news about the spill, the more likely you are to consider it a major disaster. Which is telling.

However, most people (51%) are also fairly optimistic that efforts to control the spill will succeed. About three-in-ten (29%) say those efforts will not succeed. (Now, how many times has BP tried to plug the hole? So many that they’re considering Plan E, “the junk shot,” in which they shoot golf balls and shredded tires at the hole to try to clog it. Think reverse Roto-Rooter. As for Plan F, it involves the drilling rig boring through rock at an angle and hiting the existing well, a 7-inch-wide target, at the very bottom, then injecting it with cement.)

Well, we are optimistic peoples.

Here’s our breakdown of who we blame:

• 54% say the response by the federal government has been only fair or poor, comparable to the government’s initial rating for handling Hurricane Katrina in September 2005.

• 63% say BP’s handling has been fair or poor.

• 36% disapprove of President Obama’s role in handling the leak (38% approve).

Support of offshore drilling in U.S. waters has decreased from 63% in early February and 68% in April 2009 to 54% currently (Republicans remain staunch supporters). We also have mixed opinions on whether spills like this one are unavoidable if the U.S. going to get an adequate supply of energy: 41% say they are, while 45% disagree.

As we try to puzzle that one out, anyone want to take a stab at Plan G?


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