Oil is gushing from a deep-water well in the Gulf of Mexico, where a BP drilling platform caught fire and sank last week. The slick covers an area the size of Rhode Island. Environmental groups say the disaster, in which 11 workers were lost and presumed dead, show that President Obama should back away from a plan to open the Atlantic coast to oil exploration. But a White House spokesman says Obama won't reconsider, because the U.S. needs more domestic oil and can find it safely. Is Obama ignoring the danger of offshore drilling, or are environmentalists exploiting a tragedy for political gain? (Watch an AP report about the oil spill.)

It's callous for Obama to proceed as if nothing happened: Obama's decision to shrug off this catastrophe adds "insult to injury," says blogger Seymour Friendly at Firedoglake. It could take months for British Petroleum to plug the leak. In the meantime, the marine ecosystem could suffer irreparable damage. It's ridiculous to suggest this disaster couldn't be repeated in the Atlantic.
"42,000 gallons and now 1800 square miles of ocean"

Oil exploration is risky but necessary: "Drilling is dangerous business," say the editors of The New York Times. But this tragedy isn't reason enough for Obama to reverse his decision, and abandon "a strategy of careful, disciplined exploration." The U.S. needs a "balanced energy strategy," and that means continuing "the search for conventional fuels."
"Explosion in the Gulf"

The outcry will grow as the spill spreads: A disaster of this magnitude "cannot help but call into question" Obama's expansion of offshore drilling, says Kayla Webley in Time. Before BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig went down in flames, a Pew poll found that 63 percent of Americans favored allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters. But this disaster is sure to change some minds.
"Trouble on oiled waters"