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Vitter Rips Federal Response, Defends Offshore Drilling

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) on Sunday criticized the federal government’s response to the Gulf Coast oil spill, while insisting that the unprecedented spill should not lead to the banning of offshore oil drilling.

Vitter pointed to the federal government’s delay in approving a local plan to block oil from reaching Louisiana’s marshes. So far, he said, federal officials have only approved a small portion of the plan — a fact he said he brought up in a “very frank meeting” with President Barack Obama on Friday.

“I’m not satisfied,” Vitter said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “There has been a failure particularly with efforts to protect our coast and our marsh.”

BP officials announced Saturday that the most recent attempt to cap the spill — using a method called “top kill” — was not successful. Now the company is attempting to decrease the oil flow through other methods, while drilling relief wells that won’t be ready until August.
Experts estimate that as much as 12,000 to 15,000 barrels of oil are leaking into the Gulf each day. But on Sunday, Vitter said he didn’t think it was “rational” to stop domestic drilling altogether.

“I think we need to get our hands around this event, determine exactly what went wrong. We’re going to need a lot of new technology and mandates and procedures to make sure it never happens again, and I will be a big part of that effort,” he said. “But to jump from there to say no domestic offshore drilling, no domestic production of oil and gas … I think is a crazy leap, quite frankly.”

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