President Obama’s ban on offshore drilling has come under heavy fire. The industries directly and indirectly affected by the offshore moratorium made their voice heard that they oppose the president’s moratorium, and just yesterday Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal argued in an amicus brief that “The drilling moratorium imposed by [the government] will only compound the State’s problems, effectively turning an environmental disaster into an economic catastrophe for the State.” Today, federal judge Martin L.C. Feldman issued an injunction that would block the White House’s offshore drilling ban. Feldman wrote,
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is an unprecedented, sad, ugly and inhuman disaster. What seems clear is that the federal government has been pressed by what happened on the Deepwater Horizon into an otherwise sweeping confirmation that all Gulf deepwater drilling activities put us all in a universal threat of irreparable harm.”
While the effects on the price of gasoline from a drilling ban would be marginal, the economic effects felt by the Gulf would dump salt into the wound of a region coping with not just the spill but the recession in general. The American Petroleum Institute forecasts that if the drilling ban continues, more than 120,000 jobs could be lost in the Gulf Coast and key resources abandoned or moved elsewhere.
In fact, the Washington Times reports that “Oil company executives told Congress last week they would have to move their rigs to other countries because they lose up to $1 million a day per idle rig, and said there are opportunities elsewhere.” And let’s not forget the president’s pro-offshore drilling announcement included new bans on access to American energy, such as in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, where some lease sales were already pending.
Those who support the ban on offshore drilling warn about the risks of another disaster, but that’s why Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had his list of recommendations for the president reviewed by the seven experts from the National Academy of Engineering. Their recommendation?
“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. We do not believe punishing the innocent is the right thing to do.”
The White House promised they would appeal right away. But they shouldn’t. The moratorium is unnecessary will have significant adverse economic impacts. Why take more jobs away from a region that is already struggling to manage a crisis?