…Mary Landrieu just dropped the hammer on President Obama’s offshore drilling moratorium. And after four months of paying lip service to opposition to it, Landrieu has hit Obama hard. From POLITICO…
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) delivered a blow to the White House Thursday, announcing she will block the nomination of Office of Management and Budget director Jack Lew until the Obama administration lifts its deepwater drilling moratorium.
Landrieu — one of the most vocal opponents of a moratorium she says is debilitating to Louisiana’s economy — sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) informing him of her decision.
“I cannot support further action on Mr. Lew’s nomination to be a key economic advisor to the president until I am convinced that the president and his administration understand the detrimental impacts that the actual and de facto moratoria continue to have on the Gulf Coast,” Landrieu wrote.
The POLITICO article goes on with more from Landrieu’s letter to Reid…
“Although Mr. Lew clearly possesses the expertise necessary to serve as one of the President’s most important economic advisors, I found that he lacked sufficient concern for the host of economic challenges confronting the Gulf Coast,” Landrieu said. “The fact that the most acute of these economic challenges, the moratorium, results from a direct (and reversible) federal action only serves to harden my stance on Mr. Lew’s nomination.”
The Obama administration’s six-month ban on drilling, enacted in the wake of a massive Gulf oil spill, has been effective since May 27 despite being struck down by a federal court earlier in the summer.
The White House quickly called for Landrieu to back down. If she holds out another week, the Senate could head into a month-long recess without confirming Lew.
“Jack Lew has received overwhelming, bipartisan support from Senators across the spectrum in both committees,” said Kenneth Baer, an OMB spokesman. “Especially during this critical time in our economy and in our fiscal situation, the Senate should move quickly to vote on his confirmation before it recesses at the end of the month.”
In her statement, Landrieu cited a July Department of Interior report that estimated 9,000 jobs would be lost as a direct result of the moratorium, with nearly 14,000 being lost indirectly.
“I find it stunning that the administration was aware that their actions might eliminate nearly 23,000 jobs in an already faltering economy, and proceeded anyway,” Landrieu said.
We have said for months that it would take drastic action on the part of Louisiana officials willing to hold daggers to the administration’s throat to make the moratorium go away. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has such daggers, if he’s willing to shut down oil and natural gas pipelines going through the state or the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port. But Landrieu’s hold on the OMB appointment is much less damaging to Louisiana’s economy in relation to what Jindal could do.
We’re seldom complimentary of Landrieu here on the Hayride. But in this case, while we wish she’d have acted sooner the action she’s taking today has the potential to be devastating. And if she stands strong, it has a good chance to be effective; even though the White House could make a recess appointment of Lew, he would come back up for confirmation in January with a more hostile, perhaps even GOP-controlled Senate in charge of the process. Which would make for one more political battle the Obama administration won’t want.
We’re hearing through the grapevine, though, that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has twice approached the White House about lifting the moratorium, only to be rebuffed by Obama on the advice of environmental tsarina Carol Browner. How that plays into the added pressure Landrieu is now putting on will be interesting.