Voters Rejected Enviro-Alarmism About Gulf Oil Spill

My colleague Ben Lieberman’s thoughtful op-ed in The Washington Times focuses on voters’ rejection of environmental alarmism about the Gulf oil spill. It appears that voters discounted the exaggerated claims of Gulf devastation and were more concerned instead about the moratorium on offshore drilling and its devastating effect on jobs. With a faltering economy, voters didn’t appreciate the Administration’s job-killing over-reaction.

As Lieberman said:

“For a while, it was fashionable to ridicule those who had chanted “Drill, baby, drill” during the 2008 race. Opponents of domestic drilling thought they had a defining issue heading into the midterms.

“Now the “Drill, baby, drill” crowd is back – and they’ll be returning to Washington with quite a few new allies.

“Ironically, it was not the spill itself but Mr. Obama‘s overreaction to it in the form of a job-killing moratorium on offshore drilling that really angered voters in Louisiana and other impacted states. The only reason the Obamatorium didn’t hurt Democratic candidates along the Gulf was that they were just as vocal as Republicans in their opposition to it.”

And he has some words of caution for policymakers who would try to ram through energy-restrictive policies:

So what does all of this tell us about voters? For one thing, it shows that they are getting wise to environmentalist alarmism and exaggeration. Just as the drumbeat of doom-and-gloom predictions about global warming didn’t generate public support for “cap-and-trade,” neither did overblown claims of oil-spill-induced ecological devastation create a backlash against offshore drilling. And given the still-struggling economy and stubbornly high unemployment, the electorate is not going to accept costly solutions to overstated threats.