Gov. Bob McDonnell is heading to an off shore technology conference in Houston, Texas on Monday even as workers in the Gulf of Mexico work feverishly to stop a rig from pumping thousands of barrels of crude into the water.
The oil slick - as much as five times larger then first estimated - made landfall along the Gulf coast on Friday and President Barack Obama and officials from BP continue efforts to keep the spill from doing more damage. Here's the latest report from Reuters on the oil slick, which is the size of Jamaica and could take 90 days before the leak can be plugged.
The Gulf oil disaster is a major looming headache for both McDonnell and Obama - who both believe that America must tap into off shore oil and natural gas reserves to move toward energy independence. McDonnell has owned off shore drilling as a campaign issue, which puts him in a precarious position.
He said lessons can be learned and technology can be improved as a result of the April 20 oil rig explosion, which killed 11 workers. He said it shouldn't stop Virginia from drilling into the Atlantic.
"What we shouldn't do is stop progress all together, and say we shouldn't get into this business venture," he said.
The airplane crash analogy works somewhat - but it'd be hard to find a single airplane crash that managed to wreck the tourism economy of multiple states and cripple local ecosystems to boot.
McDonnell has said repeatedly that he wants to be the first state to tap into oil reserves and Obama reversal of the moratorium on off shore drilling along the East Coast put Virginia at the front of the line for tapping in.
At the off shore conference - McDonnell is probably going to be surrounded by like-minded folks who want in on the off shore business. The sponsors are a who's who of petroleum interests.
But needless to say the dangers of Virginia coast exploration have to scare the be-jesus out of folks from the Virginia Beach Oceanfront to the Eastern Shore to Hampton to Gloucester and beyond.
McDonnell could very well be far out of office before a barrel of oil is pumped out of Virginia's reserves. But off shore drilling - good or bad - will remain a huge part of his legacy. He even touted it on twitter as one of the major accomplishments of his first 100 days in office, one wonders how history will rank that decision down the line.
Hopefully the Gulf spill is contained in the near future and serves as a crystal clear warning to companies and politicians who love chanting "drill here, drill now, pay less."
For Virginians worried about prices at the pump, the bright, burning "CAUTION" sign couldn't be any clearer.