GOP attacks administration spill response

July 18, 2010 at 8:58 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 18 (UPI) -- Republicans charged Sunday the Obama administration has been lax in keeping oil from the massive Gulf of Mexico spill away from shorelines.

With no oil gushing into the gulf for the first Sunday in almost three months, the GOP lawmakers appearing on news shows focused heavily on the clean-up efforts after the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

"This has mainly been a competence problem on the part of the administration in keeping oil off our shores," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on CNN's "State of the Union."

He criticized what he called the administration's slow response in getting skimmers to the gulf and undertaking other clean-up efforts.

"This is mainly a failure of the administration," McConnell said,

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., charged President Barack Obama is trying to divert attention from the spill and has failed to make clean-up a priority.

Vitter, noting the president had not been to Louisiana since June 4, said, "I'm afraid he's decided to deal with this issue, at least politically, by not coming back here and trying to move if off the front page instead of dealing with the issue forcefully."

The Louisiana senator, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," also asserted the administration's six-month offshore drilling moratorium could cost 140,000 jobs.

"It's already been a huge job-killer," Vitter said. "If it continues six months, it will kill more jobs here than the oil spill itself. This could be a long-term economic hit."

Also on Fox, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., took aim at the administration's gulf clean-up among other broad attacks on the White House.

"The American people are frustrated with the lack of leadership out of this administration, whether it's the people of Arizona seeing a lack of seriousness about border security or internal enforcement, the "people of the Gulf Coast" or "millions of Americans at the county fair."

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat, said on CNN he opposed the oil drilling moratorium and has told the president that.

"If you look at this from a distance and you look at it as a matter of philosophy, maybe it's arguable," Landrieu said. "But the fact of the matter is that folks down on the coast, the families that fish and the families that work in the oil and gas industry are the same families. And so that really adds insult to injury."

He said he and other Louisiana officials have asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to ease the moratorium.

"Once those rigs leave, they are not leaving just for six months, they will leave for years," he said, "and that is going to have a devastating impact on the other side of it. We have to find a way to drill safely. I mean, people in this nation consume 20 million barrels of oil a day, but we only produce 8 million."

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