As we all know, the White House and U.S. Department of Interior instituted a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The ramifications of this action will in no doubt have a devastating effect on Louisiana’s families, businesses, and economies. The directive from this Administration to shut down all new deepwater drilling operations in the Gulf Coast region has little to do about safety and everything to do about politics.
On April 30, 2010, ten days after the tragic sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig, President Obama directed Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to conduct a thorough review of the accident. The intention of the report was to recommend any precautions and new technologies that should be required to improve safety of offshore oil and gas operations. In order to provide the President with an adequate report, a seven member expert panel was assembled to give advice and recommendations for these increased safety measures.
On May 27, 2010, Secretary Salazar submitted his report to the President noting that the panel of seven experts reviewed his recommendations, which included a six-month moratorium on all-new deepwater drilling. In response to Salazar’s report, members of the expert panel are now expressing that the Administration has falsely implied that they supported any moratorium on offshore drilling. In fact, members of the panel stated that the decision to place the moratorium was added after the final review and not agreed to by the parties involved. In a letter directed to the White House, members of the panel made it clear that although they agreed with the detailed recommendations in the report, in no means did they support a moratorium. The letter noted, “A blanket moratorium is not the answer. It will not measurably reduce risk further and it will have a lasting impact on the nation’s economy which may be greater than that of the oil spill.”
Using the typical bait-and-switch maneuver, it’s obvious that it was the President’s intention to implement the moratorium regardless of the results of the report. Simply put, the report served as cover for a decision the President was already prepared to make. This action is just another example of this Administration’s continual deception of the American people.
It is disingenuous for President Obama to come to Louisiana showing intentions of goodwill while at the same time imposing sanctions that will cost thousands of good paying jobs. In a time of significant unemployment across the country, the President has chosen his political agenda over the viability of over 100,000 direct and indirect American jobs.
A simple question, “How can we reduce risk and increase safety while continuing to supply our country with necessary energy?” Why not have routine safety inspection of each rig and authorize the shutting down of any rig that is not in compliance with inspection standards? Or better yet, why not have an inspector present on each rig during the drilling process? These are just a few examples of rational approaches to solving this complex issue.
In support of expert panel, the illogical decision to shut down deepwater drilling will not reduce risk and will result in a devastating economic impact far worse than that of the spill. The President’s action will in no doubt curtail future production and lead to increased importation of foreign sources of oil.
Don Briggs is the President of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association.