End deepwater drilling moratorium now

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The evolving impact of the BP oil spill continues to grow, an upward spiral of ecological and economic bad news few expected when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20.

The May 28 suspension of offshore drilling operations in water depths greater than 500 feet by Secretary Salazar is the latest federal mistake while reacting to the event - one that will have an particularly ominous effect on Louisiana's economy, as if this state on the rebound from Hurricane Katrina has not already suffered enough damage from oil soiling our water, wetland and shores.

We support a rigorous review of offshore drilling regulations, but we do not believe the moratorium is necessary.

Thankfully, the federal government has never shut down all airlines after a single plane crash, or all 18-wheelers after a single tanker explosion, in order to study the cause of an accident.

It should not have shut down deepwater drilling now, even after the worst ecological disaster in the nation's history. We need the President's commission to get to work, conduct an investigation, submit its recommendations and implement and see that those recommendations are followed to the letter within a reasonable timetable.

The President needs to set a date when deep water drilling can begin again in order to calm Wall Street jitters, and help the unemployed and potentially unemployed plan their futures.

If the moratorium continues six months or longer it will have a devastating effect on Louisiana, as our economy is built around an oil industry economic engine. And, it will negatively affect the economies of the Gulf Coast and nation in lasting ways.

Shock waves from the moratorium have already struck. Last week, Anadarko announced it is closing down three exploratory deepwater drilling rigs off the coast of Cameron Parish and moving them out of the Gulf in order that it can meet annual production goals.

At Port Fourchon where 90 percent of the Gulf of Mexico drilling activity is serviced, as many as 3,500 employees may end up being terminated under the moratorium, according to the port Executive Director Chett Chiasson.

At the 68-year-old Otto Candies supply vessel business, company President Paul Candies said 500 of the firm's 600 employees based in the US could end up being affected under the moratorium.

In a letter released last week, experts on the panel that advised Secretary Salazar said, “A blanket moratorium is not the answer. It will not demonstrably reduce risk further and it will have 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.”

We believe alternatives to the moratorium must be found in order that our working people can go back to work and continue producing energy for America.

The administration should lift the moratorium now, conduct its review and implement safety regulations at the earliest possible date.