For Louisiana’s offshore oil and gas industry, the news just keeps getting better: On March 22, federal officials cleared Exxon Mobil’s deepwater drilling permit, a revised permit to drill a new well approximately 240 miles off the Louisiana coastline, south of Lafayette in 6,941 feet of water (the Deepwater Horizon was 5,000 feet). It was the fourth in a month. And yesterday, the "permatorium" finally ended when the feds approved the first permit for completely new exploration in the Gulf of Mexico since the April 20 Deepwater Horizon disaster, saying Chevron Corp. had shown it could contain a subsea blowout.

The good news about permitting is hitting just as the Pew Research Center released a report on a turn in the public’s views toward offshore oil and gas drilling: 57% favor allowing more oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters, up 13 points since last June.

Not surprisingly, notes Pew, public support for the increased use of nuclear power has declined amid the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan. Currently, 39% favor promoting the increased use of nuclear power while 52% are opposed. Last October, 47% favored and 47% opposed.

While drilling support has jumped by nearly 20 points among both Republicans and Democrats, Pew found a sizable partisan divide in these opinions remains: 81% of Republicans favor more U.S. offshore drilling, compared with 54% of independents and 46% of Democrats.

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press calls itself a nonpartisan "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. Read more here

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