Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) claimed on Monday that the oil rig explosion that caused a massive -- and still-expanding spill -- may have been "just an act of God" that could not have been prevented.
Speaking at a conference sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Perry offered his theory to a reporter who asked if events such as the recent West Virginia mine disaster, the financial meltdown or the BP oil spill may have been encouraged by too much emphasis on free enterprise and lax regulations.
Perry disagreed wholeheartedly:
"We don't know what the event that has allowed for this massive oil to be released," Perry said. "And until we know that, I hope we don't see a knee-jerk reaction across this country that says we're going to shut down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, because the cost to this country will be staggering."
As many have pointed out, however, BP has adamantly opposed expansion of industry oversight, and, perhaps most notoriously failed to install a shut-off switch that might have helped mitigate the crisis.
Gov. Perry's staff later attempted to walk back his earlier comments. The Dallas Morning News reports:
The governor's staff says Perry was not insisting that an "act of God" caused the spill. (He later said that he suspects a "mechanical failure" is the cause.) Perry aides say that he was simply making the point that it is too early to blame BP PLC, which leased the rig that was drilling the well.