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Not rational to give up on offshore drilling, Vitter says

By Martina Stewart, CNN Associate Producer
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Vitter: 'I'm done predicting success'
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Louisiana senator: Don't stop domesting oil drilling
  • Sen. Vitter says federal response to spill has been "a failure"
  • Vitter blames Mines and Minerals agency

Washington (CNN) -- A Republican senator from the state so far the hardest hit by the Gulf oil spill said Sunday that the environmental catastrophe was not a reason to put a stop to all domestic offshore oil drilling.

"By the same token, after every plane crash, you and I should both oppose plane travel," Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on CNN's State of the Union. "I don't think that is rational."

Vitter added that it was necessary to determine what went wrong in the sequence of events that led up to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20 which caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

"We've going to need a lot of new technology and mandates and procedures," Vitter told Crowley, "And I will be a big part of that effort.

"But to jump from there to say: No domestic offshore drilling, no domestic production of oil and gas ... I think is a crazy leap quite frankly."

To say: No domestic offshore drilling, no domestic production of oil and gas ... I think is a crazy leap quite frankly.
--Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana
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Vitter also said Sunday he agreed with the President Obama's call to develop cleaner, more renewable sources of energy than the fossil fuels on which we currently depend.

"But we're not going to do it next week or next month. So we also need a plan to bridge [from] where we are to that new future."

The Louisiana Republican said he sees nuclear and natural gas as the two biggest components of a plan to bridge between fossil fuels and cleaner, renewable energy.

Full coverage of oil spill

Echoing the frustrations of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, and many local Louisiana officials, Vitter said that so far the federal response to the spill in his state has been a "failure."

"I am not satisfied," Vitter told Crowley. "There has been failure particularly with the effort to protect our coast and our marsh."

Vitter said Louisiana's concerns about the efforts to minimize the onshore effects of the spill "was the biggest topic of discussion in a very frank meeting we had with the president on Friday," when Obama made his second trip to Louisiana since the Deepwater Horizon exploded roughly 6 weeks ago.

"BP's paying for all that but that's really the federal government's response -- to oversee and lead that effort to protect the coast and the marsh -- and it's been a failure so far.

"And we explained very clearly the significant changes we think need to happen," said Vitter.

And the Louisiana senator also faulted the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the embattled federal agency charged with overseeing offshore drilling. The agency has a history of known problems that date back at least two years, Vitter said.

The Republican added that there should "probably" be more firings in the federal government in addition to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision late last week to replace Elizabeth Birnbaum, the former director of MMS who ran the agency for roughly the last year.