Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Did Christine O'Donnell Say that Offshore Drilling Reduces Pollution?

Christine O’Donnell may be squirming in the glare of new-found publicity and the resulting scrutiny of her statements and misstatements on her personal finances, her standing in the polls and her assertion that unidentified trackers were hiding in the bushes outside her home, which doubles as her campaign headquarters. Her spinning of tall tales has given national news organizations plenty to snicker at and left would be supporters shaking their heads.

Her statements on energy and the environment are equally deserving of greater scrutiny. During her last campaign, O’Donnell offered this startling assertion in an op-ed published July 24, 2008 in the News Journal:
Biden would like us to believe that offshore drilling is an environmental catastrophe. But only 1 percent of the oil pollution in the sea is the result of oil drilling, while 63 percent is the result of natural seepage on the ocean floor.
So the earth itself is messier than oil companies? I imagine that Gulf coast residents might be surprised to know this. Two years ago, I did a little research on the topic. Ms. O'Donnell may have come across this surprising finding from this excited post in the Free Republic, which links to a 1999 press release from the University of California, Santa Barbara:
Next time you step on a glob of tar on a beach in Santa Barbara County, you can thank the oil companies that it isn't a bigger glob.
I think it’s safe to say that the globs grew bigger and more numerous following the BP oil disaster. BP has spent $8 billion to date cleaning up the estimated 4.9 million gallons that spewed into the Gulf.

I e-mailed O’Donnell’s campaign last week to ask if she still believes that offshore drilling reduces pollution, but have yet to receive a response.

In the op-ed, O’Donnell also went on to repeat the discredited assertion that China would “soon be drilling for oil 60 miles off the coast of Florida.” Even Dick Cheney felt compelled to back off of this tall tale, which was based on a George Will column. Will himself offered a correction on this point — five weeks before O’Donnell repeated the assertion.

The op-ed has long since disappeared from the News Journal website, and the O’Donnell campaign has not maintained any record of it. O’Donnell’s tale spinning on her personal finances and opposition staffers hiding in her bushes may make more entertaining reading. But we should not forget her ability to spout nonsense on energy and the environment with a straight face.

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