Senator Landrieu on Obama's Speech

Senator Landrieu on Obama's Speech

By Larry King Live - June 15, 2010

KING: James Carville and Sammy Kershaw remain standing by. We'll get their thoughts on what is heard from our next guest -- Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

First, what did you think of the speech?

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: Well, I'm very happy the president chose to address the nation from the Oval Office. I think that this incident is very significant and it deserves that kind of venue to deliver a message that's important. This, Larry, is not just about Louisiana or the Gulf Coast, although we're on the front line. It's about our nation. It's about our environment. It's about our economy.

So I think the venue that he chose was terrific. And I think his analogy to a war, to a battle, is also right on. We have not been winning these battles the last 57 days and we need to win this war. And a call for Gulf Coast restoration, as James has been saying, is a step in the right direction.

KING: What are your thoughts about the moratorium?

LANDRIEU: Well, we can't last six months. And I've tried to explain that to the president and to his advisers. I have the greatest respect for Secretary Salazar. But we have 33 rigs that can float anywhere in the world. They can be basically be moved anywhere in the world. And if we don't figure out how to keep them operating safely way before six months, they will simply leave the Gulf and go to Africa, China or elsewhere.

They can't afford $500,000 a day to be in neutral, on idle. It's not going to happen, Larry. And it's not just the rig workers that the president acknowledged. And I want to say I thought he hit some very fine points.

But for every man or woman on the rig, as James knows, there are 150 to 200, there are four or five guys back on shore driving the trucks, delivering the ice, making the food, you know. And then there are thousands of industries that support it.

So we have an environmental disaster that's causing economic damage. But we're going to have an economic disaster if we don't figure out how to -- how to inspect these 33 rigs and get them drilling as soon as possible.

KING: Do you...

LANDRIEU: And the country needs the oil.

KING: Do you back up the estimates now, putting it at 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day?

LANDRIEU: It could be. But, you know, it was clear to some of us, you know, eight weeks ago now, this well was one of the largest wells ever discovered in the Gulf. When I met with several of the wives at my kitchen table, literally, last week, they said to me, they said, Senator, our husbands would come home from this well and say this is a well from hell.

It was big. It was bad. We'll learn all about how BP didn't handle it very well. But we knew initially that it could flow at 60,000 barrels a day. That was why they were excited about the discovery. It was a very big discovery -- not the deepest well, but one of the biggest.

So I'm -- I'm like James. I mean I'm encouraged by some things I hear the president say. But we've got to put the full force of our government. I think the president made a positive step tonight, but we have a lot more to do.

KING: Sammy, do you want to comment on what the senator said?

KERSHAW: Oh, I -- I'm with her. We can't stop this drilling. I mean it's just -- it would just -- it wouldn't just cripple us, it would kill us. And -- and these guys will not hang around, like she said. I agree with her on it. We have to keep drilling. It's the lifeblood of Louisiana, you know, it has been for a long, long time. And...

KING: James?

KERSHAW: -- we just, we can't -- we can't survive six months.

KING: James, what do you think?

CARVILLE: Well, I -- obviously, I -- I agree with what Senator -- Senator Landrieu said. But the thing right now is, is that it's very important people remember this. Both the situation in Katrina, in particular in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish, and the situation in the Gulf were not anything natural about them. They were engineering failures -- and massive engineering failures.

There's nothing -- a drilling rig operated properly, with proper procedures, can be a very safe thing. It had been done a lot.

But when you had a situation like you had here and you didn't have proper regulation and there wasn't a wall of separation -- separation between the regulator and the regulated, this kind of thing happens. And I think we've got to -- we've got to tighten down on that, but we can tighten down and get it running up again.

KING: Senator, can you comment on the president's selection of Michael Bromwich, who served as the Justice Department inspector general, to be the...

LANDRIEU: Well, we...

KING: He's going to revamp the Minerals Management, he's going to regulate offshore drilling.

What do you think of that appointment?

LANDRIEU: Well, we most certainly need somebody to clean up Minerals Management. I mean Ken Salazar started the job. I think he found a bigger mess than he had bargained for. We realized that, you know, the industry can't regulate itself. I mean government does have a job to play in regulating not just this industry, but other industries, so consumers, the environment are protected.

But, Larry, just getting back to this moratorium for a minute. I mean we -- no one wants these rigs to be safer than the people living closest to them, I mean, obviously, people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. But we've got to do this for these deepwater rigs faster and then let the shallow rigs operate as quickly and safely as we can.

It's not just Louisiana jobs. The entire nation depends on this energy production, even as we move to a cleaner, greener, you know, energy future.

So we've got to revamp Minerals Management. But I tell you, there's just a lot more that needs to be done. The president's call for Gulf Coast restoration was music to our ears. I mean, James has been ape great voice. But there have been many organizations -- America's Wetlands. Restore & Retreat, the Lake Pontchartrain Area Foundation.

And we've got plans, Larry. I've been on your show before talking about this.

KING: I know.

LANDRIEU: We have to win this battle for Gulf Coast restoration.


LANDRIEU: And the revenue sharing or direct revenues would be helpful.

KING: Thank you all very much.

LANDRIEU: Thank you.

KING: Senator Mary Landrieu, James Carville, Sammy Kershaw.


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