Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gary Bauer on Moratorium, Shutting Down Oil Rigs

New Moratorium Threatens Jobs

Ignoring back-to-back losses in the federal courts, the Obama Administration issued a new ban on so-called “deep water” drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Far from satisfying the concerns of those opposed to the initial ban, the new ban has already come under fire. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) blasted the administration’s latest action in her testimony yesterday before the commission investigating the disaster. Here is an excerpt of her remarks:

“I am particularly alarmed by the Department of the Interior’s continued insistence that allowing deepwater drilling to move forward ‘would pose a threat of serious, irreparable, or immediate harm or damage to the marine, coastal, and human environment.’ That claim contradicts testimony given by drilling experts and ignores the history of oil and gas operations in the Gulf.

“…we must put this accident into perspective. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, more than 42,000 wells have been drilled in the Gulf from 1947 to 2009, producing 16.5 billion barrels of oil. It is important to note that in the last 10 years, non-hurricane related spills only totaled about 7,000 barrels. … the record is clear that the Deepwater Horizon accident is the exception rather than the rule.”

“...Gulf Coast businesses and investors still lack the certainty they need to move forward with future plans. Whether you call it a moratorium, a suspension, or a pause, the result will still be a substantial loss of jobs. Even the revised moratorium will force thousands of hard-working Louisianians and others along the Gulf Coast into the unemployment lines.”

Sen. Landrieu is right. Some energy industry executives have expressed fears that the new ban may be even more restrictive. As the Wall Street Journal reports today, “a group representing shallow-water drillers said Monday uncertainty about Interior Department drilling policy has frozen activity in their industry, affecting hundreds of rigs.” One company executive said a third of their “shallow-water fleet has been idled.”

Because the administration is refusing to lift the ban, one drilling company has already begun plans to relocate three deepwater rigs – to Egypt, Brazil and the West African coast. The company’s president testified, “My concern is that if we shut down for six months there won’t be much of a U.S. industry left.”

That may be music to the ears of radical environmentalists, but it will only compound the tragedy of the spill for many Gulf Coast families and increase America’s dependence on foreign sources of oil.