Muckraker: Grist on Politics

The Obama campaign hosted a press conference this afternoon with Democratic governors to highlight opposition to John McCain’s call to end the moratorium on offshore drilling. The governors expressed uniform distaste with the proposal, and skepticism that voters in their states would approve of drilling off their coasts.

“Our economy is driven by tourism and use of the shore,” said Jon Corzine, governor of New Jersey. “I think we would have a hard time getting public support for this concept and I think it’s the wrong direction.”

Corzine also questioned the payoff from drilling, noting that the country’s oil reserves are minimal, and it would take at least a decade for offshore rigs to produce. “This helps the stock price of Exxon and other oil companies a heck of a lot more than it’s going to have anything to do with the supply and demand conditions or the oil market any time for as far as the eye can see,” Corzine said.

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North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley said he didn’t think his state’s legislature would approve offshore drilling, but he argued that North Carolina would still feel the impact if neighbors Virginia or South Carolina did.

“The bigger problem is if the state above you or below you has a problem, it then affects your shores as well,” said Easley, who warned that offshore drilling could threaten real estate, fishing, tourism, and the general economy of North Carolina. He stressed the need to move toward alternative energy technologies like fuel cells and plug-in hybrids. “We could be off the gas and on the juice a whole lot faster than we could be bringing in oil.”

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Former Florida Gov. Bob Graham said citizens understand that offshore drilling would have no near-term impact on gas prices, and negligible long-term benefit. “There have been more politicians who went to the graveyard because they thought their voters were stupid and could be sold a bogus bill of goods than for any other reason,” said Graham. “Our people are not stupid. They understand […] this is going to take years and years and this issue has nothing to do with the price of gasoline.”