The images of a the creeping oil slick off the coast of Louisiana that experts say could lead to the largest oil-caused environmental disaster in American history appear to have had an effect on Americans who previously said they were in support of offshore drilling. Proponents of the practice have long said drilling will reduce the nation's reliance on foreign oil, an argument that in the past at least seems to have swayed large numbers.
But with proponents who have said that modern drilling techniques are safe -- including President Obama -- with egg on their face in the midst of the ongoing catastrophe, the Rasmussen poll shows Americans are shifting their focus from concerns over foreign oil to worry about the potential risks to the domestic environment.
Another recent poll, from Zogby Interactive, also shows majorities of Americans still support off-shore drilling, but have new concerns about the practice. That poll -- which uses methodology generally seen as less reliable than telephone polls -- showed 63% supported expanding offshore drilling in the Atlantic in the wake of the spill. The same percentage of respondents said they favored a temporary suspension on plans to expand off-shore oil production while the Gulf spill is investigated.