7-22-10, 3:30 p.m. – A couple of very interesting developments today, though it’s unclear if any of them will have any measurable impact on the deepwater drilling ban.
First, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing today entitled “Offshore Drilling: Will Interior’s Reforms Change Its History of Failed Oversight?” with two panels of witnesses. The first panel, as we noted in a post earlier today, contained Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy head Michael Bromwich. The duo explained to the committee that they’ll be conducting a series of meetings with local folks starting next month and continuing through mid-September, with a report due sometime at the end of October on whether and how the moratorium should be lifted.
The cynics among us would see this plan by Salazar and Bromwich as nothing more than a ruse by which the moratorium could continue while minimizing the risk of Salazar being dragged into Judge Martin Feldman’s district court in New Orleans for a show-cause hearing as to why he’s not in contempt.
Which is why the second panel, which contained Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph, was a little more interesting. Randolph’s opening speech contained a call for the immediate banning of all oil tankers in the Gulf. After all, Randolph noted, there are 11,000 tankers traversing the Gulf every year, and they all carry a million barrels of oil or more, which is an amount commensurate with the size of the BP spill. Furthermore, tankers are four times as likely to have a spill as oil wells are to have a blowout – and one main justification for the moratorium is that the feds don’t have enough assets in place to deal with another spill in the Gulf (which is ridiculous given the Obama administration’s track record of accepting help when it’s offered). So, Randolph says, according to Obama logic it’s time to ban the tankers.
This is an attempt to grab headlines and/or a negotiating ploy more than a real threat. But like Randolph said in her speech at the Rally For Economic Survival yesterday, Louisiana has little left to lose and “shutting the valve” at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port is an idea which has been bandied about quite a bit in this state lately. It’s also an idea which will get more and more traction as this disaster continues.
The fact that Salazar ignored a panel of experts in putting the moratorium in effect in the first place is not forgotten, either. We’ll have more on this tonight, but after a July 19 letter from Congressmen Doc Hastings and Doug Lamborn of the House Natural Resources Committee asking Department of Interior acting Inspector General Mary Kendall to look into the bait-and-switch Salazar pulled on his experts in enacting the moratorium, Kendall responded today by confirming her office is, in fact, working on the case. What this means and whether it will portend any consequences of note is so far up in the air, but if nothing else the black eye the Obama administration will get as a result of an IG investigation will add to the stink this idiocy is causing.
And while it seems pretty clear that the Obama administration couldn’t care less about the people of Louisiana, perhaps this state can cause such an incredible stain on his escutcheon as to severely damage his presidency. Any help that Kendall, who was originally appointed during the Bush administration, can offer will be greatly appreciated.
7-20-10, 5:30 p.m. – Sen. Vitter penned this at TheHill.com today:
“Recent studies have estimated that the Obama administration’s latest offshore drilling moratorium could destroy more than 100,000 jobs along the Gulf Coast while costing billions of dollars in lost wages. In just six months, it could end up doing more damage to our economy than the oil spill itself.
“And the damage is not limited just to oil rigs; it would also hurt the thousands of workers employed in industries that support drilling and exploration, and the millions of dollars in lost revenues from taxes and lease sales directed to coastal restoration would eventually affect every Gulf Coast resident.
“The oil spill has been an unprecedented disaster, and Louisianians are heartbroken not only by the initial loss of life, but also by the ongoing devastation to our coast. But shutting down drilling altogether is a mistake that would only make the long-term economic situation worse for residents of the Gulf Coast, as uncertainty forces energy companies to relocate their assets and the jobs they provide overseas. We must continue energy exploration here at home to acquire the energy resources our nation needs, and we must do it while making the process safer.
“Yet the Obama administration has rejected a careful, balanced approach in favor of a heavy-handed blanket moratorium. After multiple court rulings against the initial moratorium, the administration has devised a new version of the moratorium that affects deepwater and shallow-water rigs alike. The Department of Interior has also failed to act on pending drilling permit applications, creating a de facto moratorium even for companies that have complied with new safety and inspection requirements.
“Last week, U.S. Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Roger Wicker of Mississippi joined me in introducing a bill that would lift the administration’s newest offshore drilling and permitting moratorium. Our bill would force the Department of Interior to speed up the permitting process and make definitive decisions on issuing permits once a company has complied with the new safety and inspection requirements. It would be enforced on a permit-by-permit basis, making the moratorium invalid for any operator that complies with Interior’s recently issued safety and inspection requirements, and it would force Interior to issue a decision within 30 days after receiving a permit application.
“With our economy struggling, we can’t afford to let the administration kill thousands more jobs while shifting an even larger percentage of our energy production overseas. Instead, let’s focus on enforcing the current regulations so that folks in the energy sector can get back to work producing the resources our economy needs as it recovers.
7-13-10, 3:00 p.m. – At the President’s oil spill commission hearings at the Hilton Riverside today, both co-chairs appeared to get the message about the moratorium and how truly awful an idea it is – which is a rather revolting development for the Obama administration.
William Reilly, a Republican former EPA administrator, and Bob Graham, a former Democrat senator from Florida, each expressed consternation about the moratorium after denying yesterday that evaluating it was within their purview to make recommendations about it.
That changed after a day and a half of testimony. As the Times-Picayune reports:
In fact, one of the co-chairs, former Environmental Protection Agency chief William Reilly, said he can’t understand why more hasn’t been done to shorten the moratorium, which has been the subject of a federal court battle and now extends through Nov. 30.
“I come to this experience with a much greater sense of the economic dislocation being experienced here than I had three days ago” before the commission began hearings in New Orleans, Reilly said at a midday news conference. “It’s not clear for me why it should take so long to reassure oneself about (safety) considerations on those rigs.”
Reilly, a Republican, had entered the commission’s first hearing with the sense that the Department of Interior was going to do what it wanted with the moratorium and that the commission run by him and former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham wouldn’t play much of a role in directing the policy.
But Reilly said he had a change-of-heart after hearing impassioned pleas to ease the moratorium and resume at least some deepwater drilling from nearly every Gulf Coast leader and business owner — and especially after Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., pointed out Monday that there were only a few dozen rigs for Interior’s new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement to monitor.
After Michael Bromwich, the head of the new agency that succeeds the troubled Minerals Management Service, testified Tuesday morning that there were still concerns about the safety of drilling operations and it would take time to make sure those issues are addressed, Reilly wondered “why it’s going to take so long to convince people the existing rigs are safe.”
Graham chimed in, too, saying he was disturbed by a “disconnect between Washington and the Gulf region about the sense of urgency needed.” He said that if the moratorium is a “timeout” to gather information and assurances that drilling can continue, “it’s a legitimate question to ask what we’re doing to inform ourselves, establish new standards and make a quick judgment.”
Reilly said the commission could put pressure on decision-makers, adding that he saw Interior being more concerned about internal control issues than with making sure proper safety measures were being put in place on the actual rigs.
This represents what is known in the modern online vernacular as an “epic fail” for the Obama administration, since Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had mentioned in a statement yesterday that the administration was looking to the commission for guidance on the moratorium – to Reilly’s surprise. And once that door was opened, with Landrieu, and local congressional representatives Steve Scalise and Joseph Cao, immediately turning up the heat along with countless business executives and others who turned hearings on the oil spill into hearings on the moratorium, this thing rapidly became a political disaster.
On the other hand, as time goes by the practical effects outweigh the political ones if you’re seeing the moratorium as a direct attempt to kill drilling in the Gulf. Diamond Drilling announced today that a second Gulf rig of theirs is on the way overseas, as the Ocean Confidence is headed to the Congo. The numbers will begin escalating soon.
7-13-10, 1:45 p.m. – Last night we offered up Jeff Landry’s statement on the new moratorium, so today we’ve got one from Hunt Downer, Landry’s opponent in the Aug. 28 primary for Charlie Melancon’s 3rd District congressional seat…
“Obama strikes our region again with a second moratorium in his apparent contempt of court. This is totally against the recommendation of two levels of the American court system, his hand-picked science commission, and common sense. President Obama has decided to put red tape and politics ahead of jobs in South Louisiana. Obama doesn’t like the opinion of the court, so he makes a mockery of our judicial system by snubbing his nose at the injunction and the system of checks and balances enshrined in our Constitution.”
“Instead of picking up a pen to issue another moratorium, the President should have picked up a pair of scissors to cut the red tape that is holding America’s economy back. The President’s second moratorium, based on politics and not science, is simply wrong. He is killing Louisiana’s economy, hurting our national security, and making America more dependent on foreign oil from dictators and tyrants. At a time when each of the President’s economic ‘recovery’ initiatives has failed to live up to his promises, the President should be fighting to protect every American job he can. Instead, he reinvented his job killing moratorium that has already been proven to be based on politics and not public safety.”
“Our nation’s future ― especially South Louisiana’s― is being destroyed by the failed leadership of the President and his bureaucrats. America needs a leader, not a job killer!”
Not bad. The contempt of court reference is a good one. Though Landry may have won the day by calling Obama arrogant. Both statements are solid.
7-13-10, 8:30 a.m. – Here’s what we expect is going to happen today; the new moratorium laid down by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, which essentially merely added a veneer of consideration on top of the same arbitrary and capricious policy that was already struck down by two courts is going to come under fire by the same folks who killed the first moratorium. Our readers might remember that in the first round of action in Judge Martin Feldman’s district court, Hornbeck Offshore Services made a motion for Feldman to enjoin Salazar from putting a new moratorium in place. Feldman’s ruling on that motion, handed down at the same time he denied Salazar a stay of his ruling striking the first moratorium down until the 5th Circuit could rule on the subject, was that it was premature.
Well, it’s not premature anymore. The administration has now brought “Son Of Moratorium” down on our heads. And that means Hornbeck is in all likelihood going to renew their motion for an injunction from Feldman. The expectation here is that they’ll get it.
It seems like the Justice Department understands this, which is why they’re mouthing off along the lines that Son Of Moratorium “expressly supersedes” the first attempt, and it “renders the challenge by Hornbeck and the other plaintiffs moot.” They’re going to Feldman with a motion to dismiss the case. That ain’t gonna happen, but you can’t wish something away without making your wish. The “expressly supersedes” language is the ultimate in governmental arrogance; the new moratorium may have a date certain for its termination (Nov. 30), and it might now apply to floating rigs rather than an arbitrary depth, but the justification for it -or rather, the lack thereof – hasn’t changed. Salazar is still whining that the capability to deal with another spill isn’t there, which is laughable considering that the administration spent two months blocking foreign help, failed to suspend the Jones Act or the asinine EPA water discharge regulations which make oil skimming and decanting almost inoperable and has blocked every effort by state and local governments at spill mitigation. And Interior has yet to show any evidence at all that it has paid attention to the economic or environmental effects of a drilling ban, as it is required to do by law. That last part was the real reason Feldman struck the first moratorium down, and it’s why the guess here is Son of Moratorium is headed for a similar fate.
So today we’re going to watch for some legal mud-wrestling down at Judge Feldman’s court. We’re sure to see some.
7-12-10, 5:20 p.m. – Jeff Landry, one of three Republican candidates for Louisiana’s 3rd District congressional seat, absolutely let the Obama administration have it today after news of the new moratorium attempt hit.
“Does the President want to destroy South Louisiana and the entire Gulf Coast? Does the President not have any respect for the Courts? Does this President have any desire other than to cripple our economy,” said Jeff Landry.
“This is another disaster, what he is trying to do, and the hard working people of the Gulf Coast have had enough. He is spitting in our face and pouring salt into our wounds,” Landry said.
The Administration announced today that despite the ruling from the courts on the first Moratorium, they would issue a new Moratorium on deep water drilling. Governor Jindal and countless state and local officials across the Gulf Coast have continually stated how such a ban would cost thousands of jobs and destroy the economy.
“I cannot believe the arrogance of this President. This is not a dictatorship, this is a free country that has a structure founded in the Constitution,” said Landry. “The Executive Branch is limited in their power and the Judicial Branch already decided that the Administration has over stepped its boundaries. It is clear that the President gives little respect to the document that he was sworn to protect,” Landry said.
“While the American People have been screaming for sound legislation that leads our economy out of this recession, the President has only been promoting policies that are destroying the economy of South Louisiana and the entire Gulf Coast,” said Jeff Landry.
After our speech on this subject tonight at the Tea Party of Louisiana/Congressman Cassidy event at Boudreaux’s, we’ll come back and pass along what the state’s other political leaders have to say.
7-12-10, 4:30 p.m. – They did it.
And it’s hard to figure out how this new Obamoratorium is any less arbitrary and capricious than the one Judge Feldman tossed out the first time. Per Fox News:
The Obama administration is issuing a new moratorium on deep-water offshore drilling and it’s no longer based on water depth.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made the announcement Monday, arguing that a pause is still needed to ensure that oil and gas companies implement safety measures to reduce risks — and are prepared to handle spills.
The new moratorium will last through Nov. 30. Unlike the last moratorium, which applied to waters of more than 500 feet, the new one applies to any deep-water floating facility with drilling activities.
Last week, a federal appeals court rejected the government’s effort to halt the approval of any new permits for deep-water projects and suspended drilling on 33 exploratory wells.
This is what we’re up against. We’ve got an administration which gets killed in not one but two different courts, and instead of taking stock of what the judicial branch tells them, comes back even harder.
You say it’s not tyranny? Then what do you call it?
7-12-10, 1:30 p.m. – They got clobbered in court last week, for the third time, but the Obama administration apparently hasn’t learned a damn thing. Either that, or they think they’re not bound by federal courts.
Either way, the AP reports there’s a new Obamoratorium coming down the pike later today.
Last week, a federal appeals court rejected the government’s effort to restore its initial offshore deep water drilling moratorium, which halted the approval of any new permits for deep water projects and suspended drilling on 33 exploratory wells. That moratorium, issued following the catastrophic Gulf oil spill in April, was first rejected last month by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman.
“If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are?” Feldman asked. “Are all airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines? That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed, and rather overbearing.”
He said the moratorium “seems to assume that because one rig failed and although no one yet fully knows why, all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet also universally present an imminent danger.”
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at the time that he would issue a new deep water drilling moratorium that could be refined to reflect offshore conditions and allow drilling in areas where reserves and risks are known rather than in exploratory reservoirs.
In its appeal, the Interior Department asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to let the temporary ban stand until it ruled on the merits of the case.
No word yet on what the new moratorium will look like, or how exactly it’s going to differ from the one which was tossed out as arbitrary and capricious by Feldman, with the assent of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal.
Regardless of what shiny objects Salazar and Obama attempt to show the media, you can bet Hornbeck Offshore and their fellow plaintiffs will be in court this afternoon asking Feldman for an injunction against a new moratorium. Our readers might remember that Hornbeck made just such a motion when Feldman issued his ruling blocking the moratorium while Salazar appealed to the 5th Circuit, at which time the judge said the motion was “premature.”
Well, it’s not premature now. The administration has decided to press its attack against Louisiana’s economy, and Feldman will have a decision to make whether he thinks a new moratorium is evidence of contempt of his court.
7-12-10, 11:15 a.m. – The Heritage Foundation has decided to pick up where the legacy media has left off covering the Gulf oil spill (in case you haven’t noticed, most of the media is bored with the spill and has moved on to Mel Gibson’s potty mouth and Roman Polanski’s Swiss haven – not to mention President Obama’s Maine vacation). Heritage sent some people down to Louisiana last week to investigate the spill and the response to it.
But guess what they found out? While we’re all worried about the spill, to Heritage’s surprise the thing which has Louisianians freaked out more than anything is the Obamoratorium.
We’ll let them tell it from here…
The first thing we actually heard from every single Louisianan we spoke with had nothing to do with the capping or cleanup of the oil — it was the devastating impact of the Obama drilling moratorium. Legally, the moratorium has been struck down in two major court decisions, yet the administration continues on, trying to reshape it to survive future hearings, and creating the necessary uncertainty for a de facto moratorium to exist anyway.
As Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) said: “We have very serious concerns that the Department of Interior is going to announce a second moratorium. As members of the court pointed out today during the hearing, despite the injunction against the original moratorium, we currently have a de facto moratorium because of uncertainty from the Department of Interior.”
You would think the seafood industry would support the ban on drilling, since oil is now threatening their way of life, but not so. In fact, the shrimpers and fishers are some of the biggest advocates for ending the ban so the Louisiana economy does not suffer any more, and so more jobs aren’t lost. As one official told us, first the fisherman had to figure out how to pay his bills. Now his brother’s family is going hungry. President Obama needs to categorically end his assault on the economy of Louisiana. Now is not the time for politics.
Ironically, royalties from offshore drilling in Louisiana are designated by the state constitution to pay for critical infrastructure protection and coastal restoration. The longer this drilling moratorium continues, the longer Louisiana has to wait to protect itself from future disasters. Eric Smith, an energy expert at Tulane University, pointed out that the moratorium also increases the risk of a spill because that threat increases every time you start and stop operations. Smith also pointed out that putting two to three independent safety inspectors on each rig, paid for by the oil companies, would be a low-cost alternative to the moratorium.
Offshore platforms are already leaving the Gulf, and many more are marketing their services elsewhere. Once they leave, it may be years, if not decades, before they return. And if they do return, it will be at added cost due to the potential for more broken contracts.
Of course, the moratorium has been thrown out by courts at both the District and Circuit level. That hasn’t affected the federal government one bit. Don’t forget that during oral arguments at the 5th Circuit, Judge Eugene Davis voiced the reality of the case when he told government lawyers, “I have inferred from that [failure to request emergency relief] that there really is no likelihood that drilling will commence during the pendency of this appeal.”
And it isn’t commencing. No drilling, no jobs, no revenue to private industry or the local and state governments. Just a slow death at the hands of the Obama administration.
7-8-10, 10:15 a.m. – This afternoon, there will be a hearing at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on the Obamoratorium. Gov. Bobby Jindal and Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle are scheduled to attend and hold a press conference afterward. Fireworks may ensue.
At issue is a motion filed Tuesday night by the Obama administration to reinstate the Obamoratorium pending the 5th Circuit’s review of District Judge Martin Feldman’s ruling in the Hornbeck case, which is the subject of today’s hearing. A three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit will conduct the festivities.
But while the 5th Circuit is expected to hand the Obama regime another embarrassing defeat, today’s Times-Picayune notes that the court proceedings are really a sideshow. Whether there is an official moratorium on deepwater drilling or not, if the government keeps moving goal posts and failing to set observable standards from which to allow drilling – either the deepwater variety or closer to shore – the effect is the same; namely, jobs get killed and economic activity grinds to a halt.
“They can impose a moratorium by indecision at this point,” said Lee Hunt, president of the International Association of Drilling Contractors, which represents the largest oil companies and their biggest rig owners and contractors around the world.
The first directive, known as Notice to Lessees N-05, makes oil companies submit third-party certifications of key equipment, such as the blowout preventer that’s supposed to shut down an out-of-control well. It also requires each company’s chief executive officer sign a sworn statement certifying all safety equipment works properly and all well designs are safe, and acknowledging personal criminal liability for any false statements.
Hunt said that most companies made enough significant changes and performed sufficient safety reviews in the 30 days after the Deepwater Horizon incident to comply with the certification requirements. But the issue of CEO liability, something that companies are used to when certifying their financial statements, is a bit more difficult.
It will take some time to ensure the same protocols exists to give oil company CEOs confidence in the specific engineering procedures on rigs, Hunt said.
“No one minds taking responsibility, however a lot of due process is involved before you can be required to put your name to a blank sheet of paper,” he said. “We have no problem being responsible, we just want to be duly responsible.”
The same June 8 directive also applies to exploratory drilling in shallow water, and Hunt said it has been a major hindrance to resuming operations near-shore, even though no official moratorium ever existed there. Only six permits to resume operations have cleared those hurdles so far, and Hunt said the major shallow-water operators, Seahawk and Hercules, are shuttering rigs at a clip of a rig per week.
“The tumbling is about to begin” in shallow-water drilling, Hunt said.
That is indeed true. Anadarko Petroleum was the first major player in the Gulf to declare force majeure on its rigs, but now the snowball has begun to roll…
Diamond Offshore reported that four operators have declared force majeure on drilling rigs under contract in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
Devon and Murphy Oil have declared force majeure on semisubmersibles Ocean Endeavor and Ocean Confidence, while Chevron and Arena have declared force majeure on jackups Ocean Columbia and Ocean Scepter respectively.
The operators have said the drilling moratorium implemented by the U.S. government would prevent them from drilling in the Gulf. Diamond notified the companies that it does not view the moratorium as coming within the definition of force majeure under the respective contracts, “especially in light of the temporary injunction which immediately prohibited enforcement of the moratorium,” Diamond said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Diamond is in discussions with the four operators in regards to the matter.
On Monday, July 12, The Hayride will participate in a Town Hall meeting on the moratorium sponsored by the Tea Party of Louisiana and Rep. Bill Cassidy at Boudreaux’s in Baton Rouge. We’ll be part of a panel discussion along with Don Briggs, President of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, Ginger Sawyer, Vice President for the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry (LABI) and LABI’s Energy Council Director, and Lawrence Svendson, Operations Manager at Marlin Energy LLC.
7-7-10, 9:30 a.m. – We’re all doomed, the AP has revealed.
Did you know that there are some 27,000 abandoned oil wells in the Gulf Of Mexico? And some of them might be LEAKING.
After all, the Macondo well was about to be “temporarily” abandoned, and look how it’s leaking. Right?
Obviously, Macondo is just like every other well in the Gulf in that regard. At least that’s what the “objective journalists” at the AP would have you believe.
A taste of this excrement:
More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lurk in the hard rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental minefield that has been ignored for decades. No one – not industry, not government – is checking to see if they are leaking, an Associated Press investigation shows.
The oldest of these wells were abandoned in the late 1940s, raising the prospect that many deteriorating sealing jobs are already failing.
The AP investigation uncovered particular concern with 3,500 of the neglected wells – those characterized in federal government records as “temporarily abandoned.”
Regulations for temporarily abandoned wells require oil companies to present plans to reuse or permanently plug such wells within a year, but the AP found that the rule is routinely circumvented, and that more than 1,000 wells have lingered in that unfinished condition for more than a decade. About three-quarters of temporarily abandoned wells have been left in that status for more than a year, and many since the 1950s and 1960s – even though sealing procedures for temporary abandonment are not as stringent as those for permanent closures.
As a forceful reminder of the potential harm, the well beneath BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig was being sealed with cement for temporary abandonment when it blew April 20, leading to one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation’s history. BP alone has abandoned about 600 wells in the Gulf, according to government data.
There’s ample reason for worry about all permanently and temporarily abandoned wells – history shows that at least on land, they often leak. Wells are sealed underwater much as they are on land. And wells on land and in water face similar risk of failure. Plus, records reviewed by the AP show that some offshore wells have failed.
The piece drones on for some 2,500 words or so, and not once does it show evidence that any of these abandoned offshore wells are leaking. Just that they might leak at some point. Because abandoned onshore wells sometimes leak. As though there’s no difference between an oil well on land and one at the bottom of the ocean, where water pressure acts to hold in a well plug against oil coming up from below. Not to mention the fact that the vast majority of rigs get abandoned because there’s no friggin’ oil in them.
Naw, there’s no agenda here. Nobody from the AP is carrying water for Obama and Salazar’s asinine drilling moratorium. To say that would be crazy.
7-6-10, 8:15 a.m. – This morning, the Times-Picayune’s editorial staff weighs in with a piece blasting the Obama administration for its “badly muddled message” on how or whether victims of its deepwater drilling moratorium will be compensated by BP. The concept is, of course, ridiculous – BP doesn’t have the resources to pick up the tab for some $330 million in salaries per month for employees of its competitors while at the same time covering economic losses for restaurateurs, fishermen, oystermen, dock workers, marinas and all the other direct victims of its spill.
The T-P column is more polite than we would be, but the criticism is still noticeable.
White House spokeswoman Moira Mack said last week that rig workers “will absolutely not be precluded from presenting claims” to the fund. But Kenneth Feinberg, who is administering the fund, said payments for those workers can only come from a separate $100 million fund established by BP.
“The reason there is so much confusion on the moratorium is because I am getting conflicting signals here,” Mr. Feinberg said. He also blamed contradictory statements about the fund on “semantics.” Saying that people aren’t precluded from filing a claim isn’t the same thing as promising to pay their claims.
This is frustrating. Gulf Coast residents and businesses who are facing economic losses because of President Barack Obama’s decision to halt exploratory drilling for six months shouldn’t have to decipher the administration’s conflicting statements.
But increased clarity from Mr. Feinburg hasn’t brought good news for the Gulf Coast. Now it looks as though people with moratorium-related losses will simply be out of luck. Mr. Feinberg says that he’ll reroute claims of that nature to the $100 million fund that BP said it agreed to establish as a “goodwill” gesture. That fund covers unemployed rig workers only, a fraction of the jobs that are threatened by the government’s moratorium.
The paper goes on to surmise that the Obama administration figured they’d just stick BP with the bill for the Obamoratorium and be done with it, and while that’s a fairly charitable notion it probably gets at least partly to the truth. What seems more clear is that Obama simply doesn’t care about workers in Louisiana’s oil patch. All-Hat Salazar makes very clear in the video clips we’ve shown and linked below that he couldn’t give a rat’s rear end about their fate. The dismissive way that bill was tossed off to BP or an unemployment check was thrown out as a solution tells you how sincere this administration’s concern is. Salazar’s rationale that “we don’t have the resources to deal with another spill” as told to Rep. Fleming is both patently false, as a second Gulf spill (however unlikely) would occur while the government already has its Unified Command (however incompetent) in place, and, in light of the well-publicized refusals of help from countries all over the planet, strikingly reminiscent of the child asking for mercy as an orphan from a judge after killing both his parents.
But while Salazar might be justifiably reviled in Louisiana, he’s merely a functionary for the Obama regime. The moratorium is in place for reasons which have nothing to do with safety, as we have described below.
In the Houma Courier today is another editorial, this one by Joe Nocero of the New York Times staff, which indicates that the risks the moratorium seeks to eliminate are anything but eliminated by it.
7-5-10, 6:20 p.m. – Last week, we posted a video of Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-Baton Rouge) hammering Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on the Obamoratorium. Cassidy didn’t pull any punches, and in the process he made Salazar look stupid (not that it’s particularly hard to do that).
But at the House hearing Cassidy ate the Secretary of the Interior’s lunch, there was another example of a Louisiana boy having his way with Salazar. This one comes from Rep. John Fleming (R-Shreveport), who might have been a little more genteel than Cassidy was but popped Salazar on the Obamoratorium all the same.
6-29-10, 9:30 a.m. – The Times-Picayune has an editorial this morning which also focuses on Obama’s Kangaroo Court – and in particular, the presence of Frances Beinecke on the panel. Beinecke is the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmentalist kook group which intervened in the Hornbeck case and attempted to besmirch Judge Martin Feldman for an alleged conflict of interest in the case.
But Ms. Beinecke’s own statements before her presidential appointment, which mirror the NRDC’s current position in court, make it hard for Louisianians to trust that she has an open mind about matters on which our region’s future depends.
On May 21, Ms. Beinecke said the presidential commission should help “decide whether, when, where and under what circumstances new offshore drilling operations should be allowed.” On May 27, she said that until the presidential commission’s recommendations are implemented, “there should be no new offshore drilling activity permitted — in deep water or shallow.”
6-29-10, 9:00 a.m. – Our buddy Steve Maley over at Redstate.com has taken a look at the Kangaroo Court the Obama administration put together to study the offshore drilling ban, and as we’ve discussed here there isn’t a single member of the panel with experience or expertise in oil drilling.
When President Obama named the members of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, he left little to chance.
Although the Executive Order which created the Commission allowed that its membership
… shall be drawn from among distinguished individuals, and may include those with experience in or representing the scientific, engineering, and environmental communities, the oil and gas industry, or any other area determined by the President to be of value to the Commission in carrying out its duties.
… there are two scientists, no engineers, and no real representatives of the oil and gas industry. The panel is primarily made up of lawyers, environmentalists and career politicians.
Maley then goes through the panel, proving how stacked a deck this really is.
Bob Graham, Co-chairman – Career politician; former Democratic Governor and Senator from Florida and famous opponent of offshore drilling. Education: University of Florida, Harvard Law School. (Source.) William K. Reilly, Co-chairman – Former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under the first President Bush. Reilly is Chairman Emeritus of the World Wildlife Fund, and is a director of DuPont, ConocoPhillips (since stepped aside), the National Geographic Society, and the Packard Foundation. Reilly is founding partner of Aqua International Partners, L.P., a private equity fund dedicated to investing in companies engaged in water and renewable energy. Education: Yale University (B.A./history), Harvard Law School. Masters in urban planning from Columbia. (Source.) Richard Lazarus, Executive Director – Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, Supreme Court Advocacy, and Torts. Professor Lazarus has represented the United States, state and local governments, and environmental groups in the United States Supreme Court in 37 cases and has presented oral argument in 13 of those cases. He most recently served as counsel of record for environmental respondents Riverkeeper et al in Entergy v. Riverkeeper, argued in December 2008. He has published two books, The Making of Environmental Law, and Environmental Law Stories. Education: B.S./Chemistry, B.A/Economics from the University of Illinois, Harvard Law School. (Source.) Ms. Frances G. Beinecke, Member – president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, where she has spent her entire career: “Under Frances’s leadership, the organization has launched a new strategic campaign that sharply focuses NRDC’s efforts on curbing global warming, moving America beyond oil, reviving the world’s oceans, saving endangered wild places, stemming the tide of toxic chemicals and accelerating the greening of China.” Education: Yale College, B.A., 1971; Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, M.S., 1974. (Source.) Dr. Cherry A. Murray is the Dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She is also the current President of the American Physical Society and Chair of the Division of Engineering and Physical Science of the National Research Council. Professor Murrary has published more than 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals and holds two patents in near-field optical data storage and optical display technology. Education: B.S./Ph.D. in physics 1978 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Source.) Frances “Fran” Ulmer – has spent 30 years in public service at the local, state and national level, including service as the first female Lieutenant Governor of Alaska from 1994 to 2002. Education: bachelor’s degree in economics and political science and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School. (Source.) Dr. Donald F. Boesch is President of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental and Estuarine Studies (CEES), where he also holds the rank of Professor. He is a science advisor to the Chesapeake Bay Program and to Maryland state agencies and in such diverse regions as Alaska (advisor to the Federal and State trustees on the Exxon Valdez Oil spill), San Francisco Bay, coastal Louisiana, and south Florida. Education: B.S. Biology, Tulane University. Ph.D. Marine Science, College of William and Mary, 1971. (Source.) Terry Garcia – executive vice president for the National Geographic Society. Prior to joining the Society in 1999, Garcia was the assistant secretary of commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, U.S. Department of Commerce, and deputy administrator (general counsel) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Garcia also serves on the boards of the Institute for Exploration/Mystic Aquarium and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Education: B.A./International Relations, American University, and the George Washington University Law School. (Source.)
This moratorium won’t go away until Obama is forced to dump it – either through judicial action or through political pressure far more direct than the administration has been subjected to thus far. The commission he set up to review it proves that.
6-25-10, 3:45 p.m. – This might have been something of a risky move, but Kristian Magar, the dark-horse GOP candidate for the 3rd District seat, has come out with a statement demanding that Congress investigate the Soros/Petrobras connection surrounding the Obamoratorium…
Kristian Magar Ph.D., a district manager in the oil and gas industry and congressional candidate in Louisiana’s 3rd district, the area most affected by the oil spill and moratorium, calls for Congress to investigate the connections between President Obama, George Soros, Petrobras, etc.
Dr. Magar said today after Jindal’s Economic Survival Rally that a complete and thorough investigation should be started immediately. He said, “The numbers are on the page. We just need someone to connect the dots. Congress must step up.” The House of Representatives has the power, by majority, to decide what impeachable offenses are at any time. Congress must lead on this to investigate whether there have been what Alexander Hamilton called, ‘abuse or violation of some public trust.’
Magar continued, “Now is the time for truth and leadership, not talking points. If the President and his administration are using the moratorium and the law to game the system for personal gain, and are willfully harming the people of Louisiana and the U.S., then impeachment proceedings should begin without delay.”
It’s ballsy stuff, but a good step for Magar. He’s the self-described “grass roots” candidate in the 3rd district race, and he’s been flying a bit under the radar. By making this call he’s certainly not going to get a Congressional investigation started. He might, however, generate some oxygen for his campaign and he’s certainly raising an issue which needs to be discussed. The Brazil/Petrobras/Soros/Center For American Progress nexus to the Obamoratorium is the smelliest part of this entire saga, and it isn’t being given enough of a hearing outside of the conservative blogosphere. If nothing else, Republicans in Congress should demand to have access to Soros, Petrobras executives or someone connected to the investments the aging former Nazi collaborator/destroyer of currencies/bankroller of anti-American left-wing groups/James Bond villain has made both in the Obama administration and Brazilian state oil company so these questions can be explored. If such actions precipitate Robert Gibbs, Keith Olbermann or Anthony Weiner chortling about right-wing conspiracy theories, so be it. This is an administration pouring out smoke like a six-alarm fire where Soros is concerned; Magar is on the money in asking that the source of that smoke be given closer observation.
6-25-10, 12:15 a.m. – A quick note arising from Judge Feldman’s order from the Hornbeck case earlier today; when Hornbeck’s attorneys screamed bloody murder following Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s Senate testimony to the effect he would reimpose a drill ban that got around Feldman’s order, part of what was set to be discussed in Thursday’s conference call was a motion they made along those lines.
Specifically, Hornbeck asked that Feldman enjoin Salazar against imposing any new moratorium.
Feldman denied that motion as “premature.” In doing so, he did two things; first, he refused to prevent Salazar from attempting to impose a second moratorium, and in doing that he closed off a potential avenue for appeal based on an argument that he was overstepping his bounds by preventing the federal government from carrying out its regulatory duty.
And second, because he declared Hornbeck’s motion premature Feldman put Salazar on notice that any move the Interior Department makes toward imposing a new moratorium will be subject to Feldman’s scrutiny based on his ruling of Tuesday. And since that ruling was extremely damaging to Interior’s cause as it established the moratorium as arbitrary and capricious, based on a lie by Salazar as to “peer review” by baited-and-switched experts and relying on logic which would ground the nation’s entire commercial air fleet the next time a plane crashes, it’s difficult to see how any new moratorium will pass muster with this judge. Salazar is going to have to take his chances with an en banc Fifth Circuit, made up of 12 judges out of 16 who were appointed by Republican presidents.
And if he attempts to impose a new moratorium before the Fifth Circuit is able to process his appeal, Salazar could well find himself being forced to show cause why he is not in contempt of federal court.
6-24-10, 10:15 a.m. – As we wait for news from the conference call taking place right now on the Hornbeck case, here’s video from Michelle Malkin last night on Hannity talking about the Obamoratorium (H/T: Hot Air)
6-24-10, 9:15 a.m. – In one hour there is a conference call between attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Hornbeck case, the Interior Department and Judge Martin Feldman. After Interior Secretary Ken Salazar yesterday testified in front of Congress that he will reimpose a ban on deepwater drilling, Hornbeck went straight to the judge and accused Salazar of defying Feldman’s injunction issued on Tuesday.
The call isn’t available to the media or the public, which is too bad. The guess here is it would make for quite a show. Feldman’s reputation is such that he’s not likely to be too forgiving if he thinks he’s being disregarded by the feds.
In the meantime, a narrative is building that we’ve mentioned here – namely, that the Obama administration simply has no regard for public opinion or the rule of law. As today’s Washington Examiner editorial notes:
Even more disturbing is Obama’s response to Feldman, which was to promise both an appeal in court and issuance of a new drilling moratorium from Interior. In other words, Obama is forging ahead with the very policy the judge just ruled unconstitutional. And the chief executive is challenging the thousands of Gulf Coast oil industry employees to try and stop him in the appeals court. This response is the latest evidence of a disconcerting pattern with this president and his cronies in the executive branch and Congress: Their “progressive” ideological agenda comes first; everything else, including the will of the people and the letter of the law, is at most an obstacle on the road to “change we can believe in.”
Think about it: Large and growing majorities opposed Obamacare in public opinion survey after survey, yet Obama and his congressional allies wrote the bill behind closed doors, made multiple corrupt bargains to gain votes, and passed it anyway. When General Motors bondholders opposed Obama’s takeover, he flouted age-old bankruptcy law while effectively nationalizing the automaker and handing it over to the United Auto Workers union. When auto executives expressed concern about Obama’s costly increase in fuel economy standards, his chief environmental adviser warned them not to “write anything down” about their discussion.
The list goes on: When public worries about excessive federal spending began being heard on Capitol Hill, Obama appointed a rubber-stamping fiscal commission and nodded approval as congressional Democrats set aside the law that since 1974 has required Congress to approve an annual budget. When the Senate refused to vote on Obama’s cap-and-trade energy bill, his Environmental Protection Agency administrator issued a threat: Either pass the bill or the agency will unilaterally impose draconian carbon emission limits on America.
Meanwhile, Keith Riler at the American Thinker notes that Judge Feldman’s stock portfolio as of 2008 makes him as likely to support a deepwater ban as not:
AP reports that the same 2008 report showed that the Judge also owned “Ocean Energy, a Houston-based company, as well as Quicksilver Resources, Prospect Energy, Peabody Energy, Halliburton, Pengrowth Energy Trust, Atlas Energy Resources, Parker Drilling and others.” Ocean Energy no longer exists. Quicksilver, Prospect, Peabody, Pengrowth and Atlas are onshore companies. It is actually valid to ask if a shutdown of the offshore drilling business might assist these onshore companies by freeing up various factors of production such as labor, equipment and capital. It seems that, based on his 2008 stock reports and his many onshore holdings, Judge Feldman could just as easily have had a conflict of interest in favor of the Administration’s desire to shut down the offshore.
MSBNC’s drilling moratorium reporting is a disservice to the media-consuming public because it is a clear attempt to draw a conclusion that has not been adequately researched and very well could be completely untrue. MSNBC is again acting as a PR arm of the White House, so why should it be any surprise that its work would is as slipshod as that of the Administration?
6-24-10, 8:00 a.m. – Sam Hanna at the Ouachita Citizen gives voice to what a lot of Louisianians are thinking, which is that the state is now under siege.
Less than a few hours after U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman ruled that the Interior Department acted arbitrarily when it ordered a halt to deepwater drilling in the Gulf, the Obama administration declared it would appeal the judge’s ruling. Furthermore, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that his department would write a new moratorium order to comply with concerns Feldman raised in his ruling.
To surmise, the Obama administration has declared war on Louisiana and her people.
How else could the Obama administration explain its hard-line stand against an industry that plays an extraordinarily vital role in Louisiana’s economic wellbeing?
President Obama first ordered a halt to deepwater drilling on May 6. He ordered it in the wake of the April 21 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion some 40-50 miles off Louisiana’s coast. Obama said the moratorium would be effective through the month of May. On May 27, Obama extended the moratorium for six months, ignoring the fact that the moratorium would put thousands of people out of work and rip Louisiana’s treasury apart in light of a loss in tax revenues generated by the oil and gas industry.
In ordering the moratorium, Obama reasoned that the government needed to conduct an investigation to ensure oil companies acted properly in drilling for oil in the Gulf. That’s understandable.
The government and experts in the field could conduct a fairly quick investigation of the oil industry and order changes in the manner in which the industry explores and drills for oil off our nation’s coast. They could conduct the investigation quickly and safely if they desired to do it. After all, no one wants to relive the chain of events that have evolved since the Deepwater incident in April, events that cost 11 men their lives while oil continues to spew uncontrollably from a hole in the floor of the Gulf.
For Obama, though, to order all hands on deck, so to speak, to carry out a directive that would clearly cause harm to an industry and the thousands of people who work in and with it told us the president is making decisions based on pure politics, rather than employing a rational thought process. The word madman comes to mind. Fool does too.
Hanna’s concerns aren’t exactly discredited by the latest events. Last night, the Interior Department asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman to delay his injunction while they appeal it, which is extremely unlikely to happen and even if it does Feldman is probably going to require the government to post bond if he does. That will be an extremely expensive proposition. But the feds are pulling out all the stops, rhetorical and otherwise.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s determination that a threat exists has firm support from a variety of sources, the Justice Department argued in seeking the delay.
“The existence of such a threat is not seriously contested” by any expert cited by the companies seeking to overturn the moratorium or by the state of Louisiana, the court filing stated.
“To the contrary, the state of Louisiana concedes that additional safety measures are necessary, and disputes only the length of time needed to implement them,” the department added.
No relevant provisions in the Administrative Procedure Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act or implementing regulations require the Interior Department to prepare a formal decision document or findings of fact prior to issuing a suspension, the federal government’s court papers said.
“Given the efforts that are being directed at trying to stem the flow of oil from the Deepwater Horizon and to clean up the oil that has already been released, a second deepwater blowout could overwhelm the efforts to respond to the current disaster, and dramatically set back recovery,” the court papers stated.
The department argued that risk of potential harm to the people and public lands of the United States should the court not grant a delay significantly outweighs the harm to the companies that sought to overturn the moratorium.
And now the environmentalist groups are on the attack, screaming that Feldman has a conflict of interest because he owns stock in oil companies, including a position in Transocean. Which is totally ludicrous – find us a judge in New Orleans or anywhere else in the Gulf South whose portfolio doesn’t have investments in the oil industry, if you can.
Today, it’s expected that Salazar will issue forth another drilling ban edict, one which is designed to remedy the concerns Feldman expressed in his ruling. This will likely go over like a lead balloon with the judge, who might very well haul the Interior Secretary into court for a contempt proceeding. A new drilling ban doesn’t particularly persuade the judge to delay his injunction, either.
We’re going to see some fireworks, for sure. But isn’t it sad that we have to put up with a Second Battle Of New Orleans while the oil is still blowing out of that well out in the Gulf?
6-21-10, 5:00 p.m. – Most of the members of the panel whose work in studying offshore drilling following the Macondo spill was baited-and-switched by the Obama administration into the pretext for the Obamoratorium met with Interior Secretary Ken “All Hat” Salazar today in an effort to convince him to lift the ban.
It doesn’t sound like they got anywhere with All Hat.
Salazar was joined in the meeting Monday by Michael Bromwich, the former Justice Department inspector general who was sworn in earlier in the day as the new head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy, the successor agency to the beleaguered Minerals Management Service.
The experts called on Salazar and Bromwich to immediately implement the safety recommendations already outlined in Salazar’s May 27 report, including the eight measures imposed recently on shallow-water drilling permits.
The experts also added their voices to those of Louisiana’s political leaders, who have been asking for drilling to continue in the safe zones of rock and salt that lie between the seafloor and any reservoirs of oil and natural gas.
They contend that would allow important and time-consuming work to continue while eliminating the danger of oil and gas getting into the well hole, as the hydrocarbons did April 20 under the Deepwater Horizon rig. A bulge of gas shot up miles of pipes to the rig on the sea’s surface, exploded in balls of flames, killed 11 workers and destroyed the rig, leaving oil gushing out of the ground.
But Arnold said Salazar balked at any further drilling in deepwater as long as there’s uncertainty over people’s ability to contain a spill, should another occur. The problem is that all of the nation’s known resources — as well as some foreign resources — are engaged in stopping and containing the 62-day-old BP spill, and so far those efforts have achieved only moderate success.
“We said, ‘Once BP finishes with them, they’re all available,'” Arnold said. “Some of the things that didn’t work in this case might work in the next case. We should mothball what we have.”
Even though it’s quite obvious that the Obamoratorium won’t be going away until the president is either forced to rescind it or his benefactor George Soros is able to get enough rigs from the Gulf for Petrobras to commence its operations in the Tupi field, it’s good to know that there are lots of folks still trying. Perhaps tomorrow we’ll get some good news from U.S. District judge Martin Feldman, who’s hearing the Hornbeck case this week.
6-21-10, 1:30 p.m. – While we’re touting the threat of shutting down pipelines, refineries and the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port as a Chicago Politics method of forcing the President to dump the Obamoratorium, it’s quite possible we underestimated the possibility that the ban will die a well-deserved death in the courts.
The Hornbeck Offshore case, a lawsuit filed against Interior Secretary Ken “All Hat” Salazar regarding the Obamoratorium and its legally deficient basis – prior to imposing such an economically catastrophic action, for example, several federal laws require a regulatory body to consult with affected parties, which was not done in this case – received support in the way of an amicus curiae brief from Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell on behalf of the governor.
It turns out that the judge in the case, Martin L.C. Feldman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, is a Reagan appointee who’s been on the bench since 1983. Feldman is a former clerk for legendary jurist John Minor Wisdom who spent two decades in private practice before becoming a federal judge. He’s known as an irascible old guy who doesn’t tolerate a lot of B.S. from attorneys, a “notorious” pro-business jurist and a judge who pushes parties to settle cases more than most. He’s also managed a reputation for not treating nogoodnik public officials particularly well – as evidenced by the 64-month sentence he handed down on Mandeville mayor and convicted crook Eddie Price last week.
There won’t be a settlement in this case. And Feldman says he’ll have a ruling issued on whether the Obama administration has a rational basis to impose that moratorium under the law on Wednesday – or even tomorrow if possible.
6-21-10, 9:00 a.m. – From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, we get an inside look of sorts into the negotiations between BP and the Obama regime on that $20 billion slush fund – and more to the point the $100 million “goodwill gesture” the company put forth as a tip for oil workers idled by the Obamoratorium.
As of right now, that $100 million is all BP is paying.
The company was adamant that the losses from the Obamoratorium are Obama’s fault and not BP’s. It isn’t picking up the tab for it. And it knows $100 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association’s estimate of $330 million in lost salaries alone. But BP also has lawyers, and those lawyers can read the law. Nowhere in the law is there support for the idea that government fiat action which destroys an industry is a reasonably foreseen effect of the negligent action of a company in the pursuit of its commercial interests.
At the meeting’s start, Mr. Obama told the group of his concerns about those workers, most of whom did not work for BP.
When the president and vice president left the room, Ms. Gorelick told White House negotiators their legal position mandating BP’s assistance to displaced workers was weak. White House officials conceded such workers may not be able to qualify for direct assistance under the $20 billion fund, a White House official in the room said.
A BP negotiator said the White House position was “half-hearted” and its negotiators quickly gave up. “You won’t find many lawyers who will say when the government imposes a moratorium, it’s the company’s obligation to help the workers impacted,” the BP adviser said.
The BP side was so confident that Ms. Gorelick suggested the two sides allow idled workers submit claims to Mr. Feinberg and let a court to decide whether the company was liable.
A White House official said the administration believed it had grounds to push BP, but in the end, Mr. Bauer made an emotional appeal.
He called BP’s move cynical and asked why the company was “lawyering” after it told Congress and the administration it wouldn’t duck its financial responsibility.
In response to that appeal, BP’s negotiators agreed to voluntarily add $100 million as “a goodwill gesture,” one adviser said. The two sides didn’t agree how that money would be distributed.
BP used the word “fund” to describe the separate pot of money. The White House called it a foundation. As of Friday afternoon, they still had a long way to go to structure the fund, said a member of the team working on final details.
Of course, as the former editor of the Harvard Law Review, one might imagine that Obama would have foreseen this problem. Or maybe, as Tom Cruise said in A Few Good Men, the president was “absent the day they taught law in law school.” Either way, the idea of pinning the damage caused from his moronic and unjustified actions on BP netted his victims about nine days’ worth of financial succor. The rest is on Obama.
Don’t look for the Obamoratorium to dissipate any time soon, either. The commission the president put together to “study” deepwater drilling contains not a single person with any operational knowledge of how a well is drilled, what the engineering issues are in extracting oil and gas, offshore exploration or deepwater operations. It’s a know-nothing cadre of academics and envirofascist advocates. In other words, a kangaroo court. This group is not going to sanction a quick end to the Obamoratorium; that end will not come until a Republican congress forces the president to stop his attack on Louisiana’s economy.
6-17-10, 11:45 a.m. – It’s not much of a surprise that President Obama is in Ohio kicking off his “
Boondoggle Recovery Summer” rolling ferret-and-moose production today. Certainly he wouldn’t be in Louisiana touting “recovery” anything after putting untold thousands here out of work.
Ah, summer. A season that brings to mind beaches, barbecues and maybe an afternoon at the ballpark. Well this year, the White House wants to add highway construction, home weatherization and water purification projects to the mix.
President Obama on Friday heads to Ohio, where he’ll kick off what the administration is calling “Recovery Summer,” in recognition of what it says is a significant ramping-up of job-stimulating projects made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed last year.
While in Ohio — a state he’s visited seven times already, more than all but three others — the president is scheduled to meet with workers at the site of a road improvement project in Columbus. The White House says it is the 10,000th Recovery Act project to get underway, “the first of many significant Recovery Act milestones coming this summer.”
The damage continues to mount from the Obamoratorium, as AP writer Cain Burdeau recounts…
Louisiana has long been indebted to the oil industry. Its thousands of good-paying jobs – offshore workers frequently earn $50,000 a year or more – counterbalance the low-wage tourism industry in the state’s southern tier of parishes.
But that changed – at least temporarily – after the oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, spewing the black gold into the waters. Now, many of those who counted on making it in the oil patch are out stumping for jobs.
Rodney Phillips, a 38-year-old heavy equipment operator from Angie, La., was in a nine-day class when the moratorium was declared. His father made a good living from 20 years of offshore work with Texaco.
With the likelihood of quick offshore employment fading, Phillips was headed to the south Louisiana cities of Venice and Grand Isle in his Chevy truck in search of a job on one of the boats being hired to work the BP spill.
Workers like Phillips will need to take what they can get for the time being, because the administration shows no signs of lifting the Obamoratorium. The Feds answered Hornbeck Offshore Services’ lawsuit in a pretty forecful fashion yesterday:
“The Secretary’s decision was a valid exercise of his discretion predicated on the need to ensure that no further drilling accidents occur pending review and implementation of safety protocols and procedures,” lawyers for the agencies said yesterday. “The short-term economic harm asserted by the plaintiffs fails to meet their burden of demonstrating irreparable harm.”
This is going to be a long, bloody fight – and the damage to Louisiana will be unprecedented. Meanwhile, our so-called commander in chief is traipsing around the country touting all the economic growth his policies are producing around the country.
We’ll ask this question again – has there ever been an example of federal policy produced through executive fiat so effectively destroying one state’s economy? The only even remotely similar – and highly imperfect – analogy we can come up with took place in 1860.
6-16-11:45 a.m. – Last night on Hannity, Rep. Steve Scalise and Sen. David Vitter both went on after the Obama Gulf Oil Spill speech and did what we thought was a pretty good job of articulating how bad the president was from a Louisiana perspective.
6-16-10, 9:30 a.m. – That speech last night went over like a lead balloon in Louisiana’s 3rd District, as the president made quite clear that the Obamoratorium isn’t going anywhere. Democrat candidate Ravi Sangisetty would like to thank Obama for ruining whatever shot he may have had to win this fall – Sangisetty is now running hard to the right of Obama in a bid for survival, as this press release makes clear:
Ravi Sangisetty, Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in the Louisiana Third District, said the federal government has issued a death sentence to South Louisiana’s economy.
“Last night the President went on TV and said, ‘If something isn’t working, we want to hear about it,’” Sangisetty said. “Well, because of the federal government and BP, the list of things that aren’t working is pretty long. The federal government’s moratorium means the oil rigs aren’t working; failure to regulate BP means now the Gulf is full of oil; the oil means the fishermen aren’t working; that means our restaurants and tourism industries aren’t working. Mr. President, the federal government stopped South Louisiana from working.”
Sangisetty said that safety must be ensured on the deepwater rigs in a matter of days, not months. He also said that domestic oil is key to our national economy and security.
“The President chastised America for sending a billion dollars a day to foreign countries for their oil,” Sangisetty said. “Domestic oil is a perfect way to counter that, however our ability to drill our own oil has been crippled because Washington is broken. We have a serious problem down here. We need a solution for coastal economy that puts South Louisiana back to work now.”
You can hear James Carville in that last paragraph, can’t you? “We gotta seeeryus problem down heah!”
6-16-10, 1:30 a.m. – Tomorrow morning we’ll completely deconstruct President Obama’s speech on the Gulf spill and related matters, but for the purposes of this update we’ll say that what we took away from it was how completely convinced he is that engaging the country in a stupid and divisive battle for Cap and Trade when what the overwhelming majority of Americans want is for him to do away with the Obamoratorium. We thought it was extremely disrespectful of Obama to ignore the loud screaming from the people most affected by the oil spill that shutting down deepwater exploration is the wrong move; this is a man with no practical experience in any field whatsoever, and yet he purports to know better than people who have worked all their lives in the energy business what’s safe and what’s not.
Unprintable words come to mind.
So when we read the comments of chief White House Sham-Wow pitch man Robert Gibbs in a Fox News interview with the lovely Shep Smith earlier today, the reader can only imagine the anatomically improbable suggestions we conjured up for this administration…
“I don’t think the people of the Gulf, even those dependent upon those jobs, or the people of this country, believe that we ought to be letting BP go forward with the drilling process when we’re still cleaning up the mess of the last time they tried to drill at a deep-water depth in the Gulf,” Gibbs said.
In other words, according to Gibbsy, if you’re for deepwater drilling in the Gulf you’re for more BP oil spills. You’re for Pennzoil Pelicans and filthy fish. Who could be for that, after all? Forget about the fact that only a small portion of the 33 rigs Obama is mothballing (not for long, though, as there is lots of demand all over the world for those rigs to work a 3-5 year contract) are operating on BP wells; that’s a minor detail. And forget about the fact that even four of the five Evil Big Oil companies Gibbs and Obama’s buddies on the House Energy & Commerce Committee dragged up to DC for a dog-and-pony show have had zero major spills in the Gulf in modern memory. Forget about all that. None of it is important. What’s important is BP is an oil company and BP had a spill, so oil companies can have a spill. And spills are bad, so we shouldn’t have drilling.
Obama and Gibbs recognize that folks will be “inconvenienced” by having their jobs disappear – but as Sen. David Vitter noted, a government check from Obama will supposedly help soothe the pain – but that’s a small price to pay for safety.
News flash to the criminally ignorant – the folks who work offshore aren’t pussies who play college soccer like Gibbs or buy arugula at Whole Foods like Obama. They do real work, and because offshore work is hard-core stuff they earn real money. These people actually make the country work. They don’t sit in some ethnic studies class in an overpriced university and conjure up moral equivalence; they produce things we all need at significant risk to life and limb. They choose to do that, just like Obama chooses to hang out with college basketball teams and do sing-a-longs with Paul McCartney instead of having a single phone call with BP’s CEO in two months after the spill. We make our choices fully aware of the consequences; the guess here is that most of the 11 victims of the Deepwater Horizon explosion knew there was risk involved in working out there and chose to do that work anyway.
Would we all like to see offshore exploration safer? Of course. Can that be effected by increased regulation? Doubtful. After all, it’s quite clear the reason the Macondo well blew up was that BP got behind the curve on money and time and started cutting corners in an effort to get it ready for production. There was ample evidence the well was a problem child; Shell had the lease on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 and gave it up despite the knowledge there was a lot of oil there. Obama’s MMS allowed BP to commence drilling on that prospect, which was probably a mistake, and it’s clear there was limited oversight over the design of the well and the drilling plan – either that, or BP lied and didn’t do what it said it would, in which case regulations the operators ignore are completely useless. In any event, Obama already sent safety inspectors from MMS to all the rigs in the Gulf and got zero recommendations for shutdowns. He also convened a panel of experts and ignored their recommendation not to ban deepwater drilling in the Gulf.
So what does the Obamoratorium accomplish? Mike Bayham has some excellent thoughts:
And to make matters even worse for the Louisiana economy, the Obama Administration handed down a double-whammy by suspending deep water oil exploration.
Offshore oil drilling involves considerable risk, just like coal mining. President Obama should be aware of this since he delivered the eulogy at the memorial service for the 29 mine workers who were killed in the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.
Despite the pleadings of those who know the risks all too well, a diverse group that includes Louisiana Republicans and Democrats, the Times Picayune (the New Orleans newspaper that endorsed his presidential candidacy), offshore oil rig workers and fishermen, Obama remains irresolute on the moratorium, ignoring the fact that there are offshore rigs dotting across the gulf providing America the energy she needs.
Adding enormous insult to injury for Louisiana during his nationally televised address, the president had the audacity to invoke the environmental damage done to Louisiana’s coastline in part from the oil industry without offering succor.
Something that would help Louisiana would be for the president to get behind US Senator Mary Landrieu’s push to accelerate offshore oil royalty payments from the federal government as such funds would be dedicated to fighting coastal erosion.
But Landrieu’s allies on her side of the aisle are not inclined to send back to Louisiana oil dollars that could be better used to construct senior living centers in Medford, Massachusetts.
The refusal by the Democratic White House and Congress to embrace this measure of “economic justice” underscores their sincerity and begs to question the wisdom for a “red state” like Louisiana to send Democrats to Washington if they are unable to coax their colleagues to deliver for the state, when having a seat at the table doesn’t even entitle one to scraps.
Obama’s knee jerk deep water offshore policy is an example of the Obama Administration not letting the plight of the people get in the way of good policy.
Not missing the opportunity to parlay this crisis into winning converts to an impractical energy agenda, the president spent a sizable portion of his address deriding fossil fuels and the need to pursue alternative energy, though oil isn’t going to be significantly replaced as a critical component in the American energy fabric in our lifetime, no matter how many tens of billions the president casually throws against the wall or how many ludicrous taxes and trade schemes his rubber stamp Congress enacts.
Or for that matter how many more tens of billions the president makes for the House of Saud and Hugo Chavez by restricting our ability to supply ourselves with our own oil.
By the president’s words and actions, it’s abundantly clear that this crisis in a part of the country that didn’t vote for him isn’t as much a problem to be solved but a talking point to be used to advance a political agenda.
6-15-10, 7:30 p.m. – A little instant reaction to the President’s speech tonight (we’re going to do our own reaction in another thread) from Louisiana GOP Chairman Roger Villere…
“The oil spill that continues to devastate our state’s coastal wetlands is an ongoing disaster that threatens both our culture and our livelihoods. In addition to the immediate and long term devastation caused directly by the spill, Obama doubled down on tragedy last month with a drilling moratorium that will cost Louisianians jobs and push our domestic production overseas. Never one to ‘let a good crisis go to waste,’ tonight Obama added insult to injury with his push for a liberal ‘cap and trade’ national energy tax that will further cripple our state’s economy.
When Obama announced last week that he was looking for an ass to kick – we all thought he meant BP or the federal bureaucrats whose ineptitude and delays have hindered our state’s response. Tonight Obama made clear that Louisiana families and businesses will be on the receiving end of his ass kicking.”
Villere probably feels a lot like he did the night of April 9, when a gang of anarchist thugs chased him into a cab outside of Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans. Lots of Louisianians do.
6-15-10, 4:15 p.m. – Tonight the President will give another in an absolutely endless string of speeches about the Gulf oil spill. He’ll talk about two things, among others – first, that he wants to take over the BP claims process, and second, that he wants to renew his push for Cap-And-Trade legislation that, ironically, BP helped write.
What President Obama will not discuss, apparently, is any indication that during his four trips to the Gulf Coast in the past month he’s managed to listen to any of the virtually unanimous pleadings from people in the region to lift his deepwater offshore drilling moratorium.
It’s clear that Obama is either hardheaded, or deaf. Because there is virtually no support for the Obamoratorium to be found anywhere outside of the extreme Left.
Today, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) co-authored a bill which would render the Obamoratorium nugatory. The bill is quite simple in its language:
The moratorium set forth in the Minerals Management Service Notice to Lessees No. 2010–N04, dated May 30, 2010, and any suspension of operations issued in connection with the moratorium, shall have no force or effect.
“This moratorium threatens to finish what the oil spill started,” Vitter said. “If it stays in place, even for six months, it will be a devastating blow to the economy of Louisiana and other Gulf states.
“My bill would simply nullify the president’s ill-advised moratorium. The best way to prevent future oil spills is not to stop drilling altogether, but to improve the inspection process to ensure that our rigs are safe.”
Olson pointed out that Louisiana isn’t the only state taking a hard shot to the nether regions as a result of the Obamoratorium.
“This moratorium has impacted thousands of Houstonians in the offshore drilling industry including rig operators, equipment manufacturers, transportation and support staff,” Olson said. “The Gulf Coast economy is already suffering from the oil spill, and is being further crushed by this painful and unnecessary moratorium. Industry experts indicate losses of millions of dollars per day and have explored moving operations overseas.
“It would take a minimum of 5-10 years to get production back to normal operations should these rigs leave. We don’t shut down the entire airline industry while NTSB investigates a plane crash and we shouldn’t do the equivalent to the energy industry.”
The Louisiana and Texas congressional delegations are chiming in with support of the bill.
“The Louisiana House delegation has formed a unified front to call for an end to this harmful moratorium,” Rep. Rodney Alexander said. “While the full scope of this tragedy will not be known for months, we cannot hurt our economy further by halting offshore drilling. This industry provides countless direct and indirect jobs for the coastal states, and we must do all we can to help the thousands of who are out of work and whose livelihoods are in jeopardy.”
Alexander’s remarks are typical of many others. In fact, Louisiana Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle, a Democrat, has created the Gulf Economic Survival Team as a mechanism to get a message across:
The team’s message is simple: The Administration’s May 28 order, suspending all existing offshore drilling in depths greater than 500 feet for a minimum of six months, will cause irreparable harm to Louisiana’s energy service industry and drive a stake through the heart of coastal communities already suffering tremendously from the environmental and economic impacts of the BP oil spill.
None of this advocacy seems to be having the slightest effect.
We’ve already presented one possible reason why – namely, a corrupt bargain between the president and his billionaire benefactor George Soros. In our presentation we neglected to mention the obvious – which is that a shutdown in Gulf deepwater production will in all likelihood lead to a medium-term spike in crude oil prices. Having a large stake in an oil producer – like Petrobras, for example, who acts as an arm of the state and can dispense with many of the strictures with which private companies deal – could be an awfully lucrative proposition.
Only public pressure and congressional action can defeat the Obamoratorium before it destroys the Louisiana economy. A six-month drilling ban will result in those rigs dispersing to the four winds, and since rig contracts are typically 3-5 years, the effect on Louisiana will be catastrophic. Worse than the spill itself.
Public Policy Polling, a Democrat firm, did a survey of Louisiana voters today, and among the questions asked was a comparison between President Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina and Obama’s handling of the Gulf spill. Bush wins the comparison by a 50-35 count, possibly because Bush didn’t order the razing of or ban construction in areas flooded by Katrina.