It’s almost exactly one year after the BP oil spill at the Macondo well, but according to a new CNN poll, most Americans support the expansion of offshore drilling. The poll, released Tuesday, reveals that 69 percent of the public favor increased drilling in domestic waters.
That number is up 20 points from last June when the spill was still gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It is, however, at the same level of similar polls during the summer of 2008. It’s likely no coincidence that 2008 was the last time Americans were facing the prospect of paying $5 a gallon for gas.
It’s not just Republicans who favor increased drilling this time around, either. Fifty-seven percent of those in favor of drilling identified as Democrat.
The poll’s result is welcome news for Republicans who have been urging more domestic drilling and pushing Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar to lift the de-facto moratorium in the Gulf.
Republican Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, even recently unveiled legislation that would force speedy action on offshore drilling permits. Hastings’ three bills would require DOI to act on permit applications within 30 days, sell oil and gas leases off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and set a deadline for leases that have already been sold for drilling in Gulf areas that have already been approved.