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Gulf oil spill: Pro-industry senators temper their message

May 11, 2010 | 10:46 am
Murkowski Politicians who have traditionally supported the oil industry were singing a different tune in Tuesday's hearings before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, as the panel grilled executives from BP, Transocean and Halliburton over the catastrophic oil spill that was contaminating the Gulf of Mexico. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the panel’s top Republican, told the industry executive that she wasn’t happy with their efforts to shift blame. "I would suggest to all three of you we are all in this together," she said.

"This accident is a reminder of a cold reality that production of energy will never be without risk or environmental consequences," Murkowski said.  But the Alaska senator, whose state is hoping to capitalize on new oil leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, also urged her colleagues not to retreat on new offshore drilling, despite the rig explosion three weeks ago.

"The American people are not ready to turn their backs on offshore production – and neither should we," she said.

As a handful of drilling opponents held up signs that read "Spill, Baby, Spill" and "BP -- Bad People," Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) worried about oil approaching the shores of his state: "We're just at the whim of the tides and the winds."

-- Richard Simon

Photo: Sen. Lisa Murkowski urged against putting an end to offshore drilling. Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images