Crist, Barbour clash on drilling moratorium

While Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour agree the media is over-hyping the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the two couldn’t have disagreed more when talking about the future of drilling in the Gulf.

On CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, Crist said the spill shows the federal government should continue the moratorium on drilling, while Barbour said the moratorium only serves to hurt the U.S. economy by resulting in lost jobs in the drilling industry.

“If this spew in middle of the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t tell us we need to be more cautious and more careful about doing this in the future, I don’t know what else would,” Crist said. “I mean, we don’t have these rigs off the Florida coast. We are suffering from the one off the Louisiana coast. It troubles me greatly that that’s occurring.”

Barbour, a Republican, said if drilling companies can’t drill here, they will take their jobs and equipment overseas to West Africa and Brazil where oil is plentiful.

“We produce 30 percent of our oil in the United States in the Gulf of Mexico,” Barbour said. “If you shut that down, it will have an enormously negative effect on the national economy. What’s going on right now is hurting my state’s economy and these other Gulf states . . . But this moratorium is going to hurt the national economy.”

The clash is interesting given that a year ago, Crist and Barbour were being talked about as potential presidential candidates given they were among the most popular Republican governors in the nation at that point. Crist, of course, is no longer a Republican, having switched his registration to no party affiliation to run as an independent for governor.

Herald Tribune