Bloomberg Poll: 73% of Americans Oppose Ban on Deepwater Oil Drilling; BP Spill a Freak Accident

Most Americans oppose President Barack Obama’s ban on deepwater oil drilling in response to BP’s Gulf of Mexico spill, even as they hold BP primarily responsible for the incident, according to a new Bloomberg poll.

Seventy-three percent say a ban is unnecessary, calling the worst oil spill in US history a “freak accident,” according to the Bloomberg National Poll. Barely more than a third (37%) say they support drilling less than they did a few months ago. The BP rig sank in April. The administration issued a new moratorium this week after a court rejected one imposed in May.

Eight in 10 (79%) of those questioned in the 9-12 July poll say London-based BP should pay for all damage caused by the spill. Sixty percent say BP, not the federal government, should reimburse wages lost by oil workers laid off because of the moratorium, with 56% saying even the possibility of bankruptcy shouldn’t allow the company to escape paying.

Asked who was most to blame for the spill, 44% say BP, and 19% say lax federal regulations and oversight. One in five say (22%) no one is to blame.

The fact so many people say it was a freak accident is especially telling,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based company that conducted the telephone survey. “People say BP must pay, but there’s no sense of impending doom at the hands of the entire industry.

The length of the spill, now in its 84th day, may explain why there’s not a broader sense of outrage, she said.

Perhaps because it’s gone on so long there’s a sense that it is what it is,” Selzer said. “BP is accountable for what they are accountable for, but any sense of vindication you might look to find is absent.”


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