Poll: Support For Offshore Drilling Takes Big Hit After Gulf Spill

Americans are much less interested in supporting off-shore drilling in the wake of the calamitous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s according to a new poll from Rasmussen, which shows support for drilling has dropped by 14% since late March. The number of Americans who say they’re concerned about the environmental impact of offshore drilling jumped 20% in the same period.

A majority of Americans, 58%, still support adding more oil wells to the nation’s coastal waters. But that’s down from 72% less than Ramussen’s March poll. Less than half in that poll, 49%, said the were “at least somewhat concerned about environmental problems caused by drilling. In the new poll, 69% say they’re concerned about the environmental impact of drilling.

The Rasmussen poll was conducted among 1000 likely voters on May 4-5. The margin of error is 3%.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.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Fire In The Gulf: New Pictures Of The Deepwater Horizon]

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.