This has got to be an uncomfortable fact for Mary Landrieu: six months ago, in a hearing on offshore oil drilling safety, Landrieu sided with David Rainey, BP's Vice President of Exploration for the Gulf of Mexico, who had just vouched for the safety of drilling in the Gulf.
Moments after Rainey said drilling in the Gulf of Mexico "has been going on for the last fifty years, and it has been going on in a way that is both safe and protective of the enviroment," Landrieu derisively mocked drilling safety concerns, dismissing the risks of drilling as inconsequential.
Landrieu's comments focused on a offshore drilling disaster in Australia in which just over 800,000 gallons of oil were spilled, saying that such an accident could not occur in the United States because our safety regulations wouldn't allow such a mishap. At the time, The Hill reported:
An oil spill halfway around the world has flowed all the way to Capitol Hill and the Senate fight over offshore drilling.
The spill off the western Australian coast spewed oil into the ocean for 10 weeks, eventually engulfing a platform and the attached drilling rig in flames.
Opponents of offshore drilling are now using images from the spill as a warning sign of what could happen off the U.S. coast if expanded drilling is allowed. ... At the same hearing, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a strong oil industry ally, warned against using the spill to smear the industry’s safety record – or block new drilling off U.S. shores.
Remarkably, Landrieu made her comments sitting in front of an image of the Australian rig engulfed in flames. Pointing to it, Landrieu said: "This rig would not be allowed to operate in the United States of America."
Despite BP's and Landrieu's safety claims, at its current rates, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could end up being twenty times larger than the Australian spill. Earlier in the hearing, Landrieu mocked the notion that the environmental and economic risks of offshore drilling were serious, saying "I mean, just the gallons are so minuscule compared to the benefits of U.S. strength and security, the benefits of job creation and energy security. So while there are risks associated with everything, I think you understand that they are quite, quite minimal."