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Transcript: Gov. Haley Barbour on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published June 07, 2010 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a rush transcript of the June 6, 2010, edition of "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: Now let's get reaction from one of the leaders along the gulf coast, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, who joins us from the state capital in Jackson.
Governor, how badly has your state been hit both from oil washing up on the shore and also the impact on small businesses from hotels to fishermen who have been impacted by this spill?
GOV. HALEY BARBOUR, R-MISS.: Well, the truth is, Chris, we have had virtually no oil. If you were on the Mississippi gulf coast any time in the last 48 days you didn't see any oil at all. We've had a few tar balls, but we've had — we have tar balls every year as a natural product of the Gulf of Mexico. Two hundred and fifty thousand to 750,000 barrels of oil seep into the Gulf of Mexico through the floor every year, so tar balls are no big deal.
In fact, I read that Pensacola or the Florida beaches, when they had tar balls yesterday, they didn't even close. They just sent people out to pick them up and throw them in the bag.
The biggest — the biggest negative impact for us has been the news coverage. There has been no distinction between Grand Isle and Venice and the places in Louisiana that we feel so terrible for that have had oil washing up on them. But the average viewer to this show thinks that the whole coast from Florida to Texas is ankle-deep in oil.
And of course, it's very, very bad for our tourist season. That's the real economic damage. Our first closure of fisheries in Mississippi waters came just earlier this week after about 45 days.
So it may be hard for the viewer to understand, but the worst thing for us has been how our tourist season has been hurt by the misperception of what's going on down here. The Mississippi gulf coast is beautiful. As I tell people, the coast is clear, come on down.
WALLACE: OK. We got the message, Governor. How do you think B.P. and the administration have responded to the oil spill and the clean-up so far?
BARBOUR: Well, look. You know, governors have a little bit different attitude about things like this than Washington. You know, Washington — everybody's playing the blame game. Who's at fault?
Governors — we're trying to solve a problem. We're working the problem here. You interviewed Admiral Allen, who, by the way, we think the world of. He came in here after Katrina and did a great job. What we're doing is we've got five layer defense of Mississippi's barrier islands and beaches where we've recruited 1,200 vessels.
And yesterday and today we'll have 250, 350 vessels a day out front of the barrier islands, kind of like a picket line, a sentinel line. And then when we find some oil, which we have only done twice, we get out there and we try to catch it before it comes on to Mississippi.
WALLACE: But, Governor...
BARBOUR: So that's...
WALLACE: ... and I don't mean to ask you...
BARBOUR: ... solve the problem.
WALLACE: ... I'm not asking you the blame game, but I do have to ask you — you've been on the national political scene a long time. Do you think President Obama has shown leadership in managing this crisis?
And what do you think of the argument that he needs to demonstrate more anger towards B.P. and more concern towards the residents of the gulf?
BARBOUR: The American people want problems solved. And they don't need Republican politicians like me piling on. The American people are making up their minds pretty clearly about what they think of the administration's performance in this disaster. And I'll let it stand at that.
You know, Napoleon said never interfere with the enemy while he's in the process of destroying himself. So people don't need me to pile on or to talk about what the administration's doing or ought not to do.
I will say this. When we asked them to do something, when we ask Admiral Allen for something, they try to do it. When we ask B.P. for something, they try to do it. There's no satisfactory response until they get that well shut in and no more oil coming out.
WALLACE: Let me ask you...
BARBOUR: But — and we find out what caused this to happen.
WALLACE: And let me...
BARBOUR: For our future...
BARBOUR: ... it's critical to know why this happened.
WALLACE: Well, absolutely.
WALLACE: And that gets us to the next point, because Louisiana governor Jindal is criticizing the Obama administration for putting a six- month moratorium on deepwater drilling until they figure out what's happened. Do you agree with him, or do you think that he's off-base in calling for continued drilling?
BARBOUR: He's exactly right to call for continued drilling. Let me — let me say a couple things. In the last 50 years, the four states that allow offshore drilling on the gulf, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Alabama — more than 30,000 wells have been drilled in the Gulf of Mexico.
This is the first time in that more than 30,000 we have ever had anything like this happen. About 30 percent of America's production of oil and gas coming out of the Gulf of Mexico. If you shut this down, don't kid yourself, you're not shutting it down for six months. These big oil rigs — by the way, B.P. and Transocean are not even American companies.
In six months, these oil rigs aren't going to be sitting around the gulf waiting. They're going to be in west Africa. They'll be in Indonesia. They're going to be in China. They're going to be drilling oil wells elsewhere in the world.
And the loss of production that we're going to suffer will make us even more dependent on the Middle East, on Venezuela, on people that aren't our friends.
And let me tell you one other little thing environmentalists ought to think about. Of the 10 worst oil spills in American history, seven of them were from ships. Seven of them were from ships.
WALLACE: Yeah, but, Governor...
BARBOUR: We have more oil coming in...
WALLACE: Governor, I've got less than a minute...
WALLACE: ... I've got less than a minute left.
BARBOUR: Excuse me.
WALLACE: And I want to get a quick answer to this, if I can. The White House says until they figure out what happened, a question that you asked, and how to make sure it doesn't happen again, it would be foolish to let these oil companies, including B.P., drill new deepwater wells.
BARBOUR: Well, I disagree with that, because the alternative to that is we've shut in 33 wells just kind of in the middle of production. Who knows if they'll ever come back? And we're going to push all the equipment away, and we're not going to have it to drill here.
Now, if we were drilling more on shore, if we were drilling more in Alaska, you can say OK, we can take a longer break in the gulf. But don't think that a six-month moratorium means six months. It means much, much longer than that.
WALLACE: Governor Barbour, we're going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you, as always, for joining us. It's always a pleasure to talk with you, sir.
BARBOUR: Thank you, Chris, very much.
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