Greg Sargent listened to Robert Gibbs press conference today and sees the germs of a reversal on expanding offshore drilling, tied to an investigation by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about what happened in the BP oil disaster:

“This is an administation that is going to take whatever we get from that and have that dicate our decision-making going forward. It would be premature to get to far ahead of where Secretary Salazar’s investigation is…

“The investigation is to determine what happened and to use that information going forward to dictate any changes in our policy.”

This comes just as comes out with a new 30-second spot, using powerful imagery from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and the subsequent washup of oil on the shores in the Gulf, demanding that Obama reinstate the ban on new offshore drilling. Like Paul Krugman predicted today, the spot makes use of the horrible images in a similar way that images of the Cuyahoga River fire and Santa Barbara oil spill prompted the creation of Earth Day and new environmental policies like the establishment of the EPA and the Clean Water Act.

This disaster will have an even greater impact, if only because of its longevity. BP won’t even have their highly experimental containment system ready for deployment for another week, and the more likely to succeed drilling of a relief well could take up to a month. The booms meant to shield the coastline from the oil slick have begun to fail. This is all going to play out for many months, with the reputation of offshore drilling put into tatters, at least in the short term. If the White House isn’t looking for a pretext to change course, they should be, and as the days progress it will become an imperative. We’ve seen the first chink in the armor today.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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