President Obama addressed the nation on June 15 giving his report on the status of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf, its developing consequences, the federal government’s response to it, and his attempt to use it to raise energy costs for all Americans. As expected, he lauded the federal government’s response to the disaster, said he was in charge, and took no personal blame for the continuing failure to control the impact of the oil release.
In the president’s address, he talked a considerable amount about the hardships now facing the seafood and tourism industries on the Gulf Coast. He said that BP needed to make those businesses and individuals whole (and it does) and that he would work to force BP to do it. He said nothing about the economic peril now being faced by the families of the men and women who work in the offshore oil and gas industry. If anything, he was even more entrenched than before in continuing with the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling that he recently imposed. He did note that the offshore industry workers faced “difficulties” (quite an understatement), but he offered no hope to their families for any relief in the short term. In essence, he reaffirmed his economic death sentence for the State of Louisiana. Our workers, businesses, and state and local governments are just “collateral damage” in the wake of his moratorium.
To cover the southern exposure of his mid-section, he repeatedly noted that BP would be forced to pay for the economic losses and damages everyone is experiencing in the Gulf Coast area. He obviously continues to put forth the faulty logic that BP is the responsible party for compensating working families and governments for the losses coming directly from his moratorium. BP announced yesterday that it is voluntarily creating an independent $100 million fund for drilling rig workers who are losing their jobs. That will probably equate to a one-time payment of about $5,000 per employee and that won’t go far. What about the tens of thousands of non-rig workers who have lost their jobs, and the state and local governments who will lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues? Who is going to make them whole? BP clearly noted that it has no responsibility to repair economic damages coming from the President’s moratorium, and there is little likelihood that the courts will disagree with that assessment. The Obama administration will have to answer for moratorium-generated losses by either using federal resources to pay for the losses (don’t even remotely think that will happen) or telling the economic victims in Louisiana that they will just have to suck it up (prepare to start sucking).
The best assurance that President Obama can give to the people of the Gulf Coast is to do everything possible to strengthen the economy of the area so it can survive on its own. He has done the exact opposite with his moratorium. The deepwater rigs are leaving and won’t be back anytime soon. With them, tens of thousands of good paying jobs are disappearing and may not return for years. Those jobs are leaving due to the edict issued by one person. Only one person can reverse that damage.
The hard-working citizens of Louisiana want BP to make good on the ecological and economic losses it has caused. They also want the president to stop imposing more hardships on the state and to lift his death sentence on Louisiana’s economy.
Dan Juneau is the President of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.