The Republican Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal…
…wants our President Obama to end his weak-kneed temporary moratorium on offshore drilling, now.
For those (like myself), who have found President Obama’s reaction to this “greatest environmental disaster in US history” full of competence but lacking in emotional leadership, you’ll enjoy the White House response.
First, Jindal’s letter:
The undertone of the letter is that of a governor whose political livelihood is, in no small way, dependent on stemming the economic damage of the current spill. Certainly, Jindal’s national political ambitions correspond with the idea that offshore drilling (including the deepwater variety) should not be interrupted — merely made safer.
But the context of the note to Obama is a peculiar one. For starters, an investigation into what went wrong with the current spill has yet to conclude — meaning that the same technical problems could still pop up at other sites. Moreover, Jindal has been quite public and aggressive with his insistence that BP has been less than capable in managing the fallout of the spill it has caused. He made explicit calls for the “federal government to force BP to act responsible” and for the oil company to “either begin the work or get out of the way,”
But the oil company that Jindal (and others) are now demonizing would be overseeing a good chunk of the deepwater drilling that he wants put back online. Of the 33 permitted deepwater drilling rigs that Jindal wants to continue operating, two are under BP leases and two are operating under leases controlled jointly by BP and Devon, according to a federal official…click over to Huff Post for the full story.
The 6-month moratorium on deepwater drilling was instituted for a clear reason: the President believes we must ensure that the BP Deepwater Horizon spill is never repeated. This will allow for the new safety equipment and procedures announced in Secretary Salazar’s May 27th report to be implemented and for the independent commission to review the cause of the spill and analyze the rules and regulations governing offshore drilling.
A repeat of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill would have grave economic consequences for regional commerce and do further damage to the environment.
Among the drilling rigs that have frozen exploration in the Gulf are 2 operated by BP, and 2 jointly operated by BP and another company. Proceeding without the moratorium would mean that BP would continue deepwater exploration in the Gulf.
Economic impacts were certainly taken into account – the moratorium is surgical and shallow water drilling, in which the risks are better known, is continuing under stricter safety rules. Additionally, oil and gas production is continuing at the existing set of production wells, so we are not expecting short term effects on our oil and gas supply.
Under the administration’s legislative proposal to assist those harmed by the spill, workers unemployed because of the 6-month moratorium would be eligible for unemployment assistance. The proposal would also create jobs for cleanup, restoration, renovation and recovery. And the Small Business Administration is currently offering economic injury loans to impacted businesses on the Gulf Coast.