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Drilling Moratorium Lift Announcement Met with Skepticism

The Obama administration’s announcement they would “lift” the moratorium on deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was met with deep skepticism by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. 

Reaction was swift.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has been holding up a Senate vote to confirm Obama’s choice of Jacob Lew to head the Office of Management and Budget in protest of the continued moratorium.  Landrieu, a dependable Obama vote in the Senate, is so unconvinced of the authenticity of the administration’s announcement that the moratorium will soon end that she announced her continued hold on the nomination.

“Today’s decision is a good start, but it must be accompanied by an action plan to get the entire industry in the Gulf of Mexico back to work,” Landrieu said.

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, spoke with HUMAN EVENTS today about the moratorium.

“Until I see a timeline, when they say the rules will be issued on this date, and any ambiguity will be cleared up by that day, and there will be a third party certification of the permitting process that is fully active by the next day, I’m not going to believe that the moratorium is over,” Cassidy said.  “I want to think that, I hope that’s the case, but until I actually see a timeline with deadlines I won’t believe it.”

The entire Gulf region has been under a de facto moratorium on shallow water drilling — with the Obama administration issuing only seven permits since May — leaving much of the industry sitting idle and putting thousands of people out of work nationwide.

Cassidy spoke of the recent story in the Wall Street Journal of Joe Gonzales, a shallow water oil rig employee who is out of work because of the de facto moratorium on shallow water drilling.  Because Gonzales is employed on a shallow water rig currently sitting idle due to unissued permits, he is not authorized to receive BP funds for moratorium damages being paid to deep water rig employees.  Cassidy says this story is representative of the circumstances crippling the region.

“This is a human story about a fellow who’s trying to do it right but because of this reaction to the Macando disaster he is perhaps going to lose his job and lose his house a second time,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy also pointed out that the jobs lost by the “de facto moratorium and the moratorium in fact” are not limited to the Gulf region.

“For instance, the steel that is used for these drills and drilling pipes are made in the Midwest.  It is is high-grade steel.  There are jobs being lost in the Midwest in the steel mills because they are not drilling in the Gulf,” Cassidy said.  “There are engines being built at Caterpillar in Illinois to go on an oil rig that are not being bought because oil rig drilling is shut down.  The effect across our country is profound.”

As reported in the Washington Post, estimates of direct and indirect job losses as a result of the long term moratorium on deep and shallow water drilling could cost in excess of 175,000 jobs.

“If we’re really concerned about jobs we need to stop getting in the way of job creation,” Cassidy said.  “The administration talks about creating jobs and then inhibits, inhibits, inhibits job creation on the other side.  We need to actually line up rhetoric with action.”

For more extensive impact and reaction and the local Louisiana flavor, read Moratorium Lifted? Color Us Unimpressed at The Hayride. 

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Connie Hair writes a weekly column for HUMAN EVENTS. She is a former speechwriter for Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.).

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