Every year, residents of the Gulf come to Morgan City, Louisiana to celebrate the lifeblood of the region’s economy: seafood and oil. This September marks the 75th anniversary of this symbiotic relationship. The Shrimp and Petroleum Festival emphasizes “the unique way in which these two seemingly different industries work hand-in-hand culturally and environmentally in this area of the ‘Cajun Coast’.” One might think the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill would significantly mar this relationship, and the seafood industry would vociferously support President Obama’s offshore drilling moratorium. But the reality is just the opposite is true; the spill has strengthened the bond between the oil and seafood industry and the shrimpers and fishers have been as vocal as anyone in lifting the offshore drilling ban.
Without any scientific or technological basis for banning offshore drilling, it is senseless policy that is pouring salt into the economic wounds of the Gulf. Peter Vujnovich, a third generation oyster farmer and owner of Captain Pete’s Oysters said, “Even though the oil industry and the seafood industry have conflicts, we need each other. I use a tremendous amount of fuel in my (seafood) farming operations and it seems senseless at this time when the economy is down and jobs are at stake to shut down such a major part of Louisiana’s income and job opportunities.”
The moratorium will not just affect the thousands of workers on the rigs, but the indirect effects will ripple throughout the Gulf’s economy, destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs. And it’s not just a six-month moratorium. 4 rigs have already left and others are ready to go. When the rigs leave, if they enter into multi-year contracts, a six month moratorium really becomes a six year moratorium.
The seafood industry wants the oil stopped and cleaned up but the offshore drilling ban has caused another problem for the Gulf to address. Although a federal judge issued an injunction that blocked the White House’s offshore drilling ban, and an appeals court today upheld that injuction, the federal government seeks to continue pressing this devastating policy–which in itself creates a de facto ban due to industry uncertainty. The Obama administration needs to publicly lift the drilling ban to assure the Gulf some certainty in allowing the oil industry to drill, restore economic activity, and allow the seafood industry to return to their way of life.
Our Live from the Gulf series is brought to you by our team of energy, environment, homeland security and response experts:
James Carafano: Deputy Director, The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies and Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies
Jack Spencer: Policy Director, Energy and Environment, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies
Nick Loris: Research Assistant, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies
Rory Cooper: Director of Strategic Communications