Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Obama Lied, Offshore Drilling Died

Some are coming around to what we, those of us working within the oil drilling business, have said all along - the horrible tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon explosion gave cover to the Obama administration to kill the industry. First it was to impose the six month deep water drilling moratorium, though it was not recommended by any expert in the field. Currently it is by slowly drying up the new lease applications and permits by mounds of time consuming red tape. Add to that the cancelling of the offshore drilling green light given by Obama earlier this year for the coasts of Virginia and Florida and the administration just may get its way.

Just prior to the mid-term elections, President Obama ended the drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico, at long last heeding an outcry that included members of his own party. However, the gesture was purely political, and as it turns out, deceptive. Behind the scenes, his regulators imposed new red tape so complex that a de facto “permitorium” effectively kept the ban in place.

The result was permanent job losses, even as it came to light that the Interior Department doctored scientific reports to enforce what turned out to be an unnecessary shutdown of Gulf energy exploration in the first place. The oil and gas industry supported $12.7 billion in household earnings in Louisiana alone, according to state data, and a study by LSU Professor Joseph Mason found that the ban cost up to 155,000 jobs. The impact extended to the region’s small businesses
from suppliers to grocery stores relying on revenue from the oil and gas industry.

On December 1, the president finally gave up the charade and declared that no drilling will take place in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico for the next five years. He even upped the ante, adding the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts to the no-drill zones.

The petroleum industry lobbyists are on Capitol Hill asking for Congressional oversight and a reversal of the reversal by the President.

American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard told reporters Monday he’s hopeful Interior will change its mind, but also made clear he’ll lobby Congress to mandate wider development. He slammed “unelected bureaucrats” for making what he called harmful decisions.“We hope Interior will reconsider,” Gerard said on a conference call. “We also think that congressional action and oversight are needed.”

Asked about seeking legislation that would require expanded leasing, Gerard replied, “We will pursue whatever avenues we think are in the best interests of the American people.”

Three dollar a gallon gas is just around the corner. Heating oil prices will increase in the northeast. The usual chain of events occur. This time, however, there is no George W. Bush to blame.

In a time when our nation is battling a deep recession, no jobs can be allowed to go elsewhere in the world. That includes jobs within the energy sector. True leadership - a leadership not blinded by impractical political ideology - is needed from President Obama to step up and do the right thing. Stop the moratoriums issued on offshore oil drilling.

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