Lift 'reckless'drilling ban, Gulf residents plead
Washington (AFP) July 27, 2010
President Barack Obama's "reckless" moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is suffocating small businesses and destroying livelihoods, lawmakers and residents said Tuesday.
"The decision to stop energy exploration in the Gulf of Mexico appears to have been made in an uninformed manner that borders recklessness," Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu told the small business committee, which she chairs.
"It has increased our risk to the environment, it has increased our national security risk, it has increased the risks to job security. It must be reversed now."
A study by Louisiana State University finance professor Joseph Mason estimates the six-month moratorium, which ends in late November, would cost more than 8,000 jobs in Gulf states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
Nearly 500 million dollars in wages will be wiped out by the deepwater drilling ban, as will be 2.1 billion dollars in economic activity and some 100 million dollars in state and local tax revenues.
But the impact of the moratorium would not stop there, the study warned.
At least 12,000 jobs could be lost nationwide, and with them would go around 200 million dollars in federal tax revenues.
The moratorium was spurred by a rare but tragic accident on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig, which blew up 99 days ago, killing 11 workers and sparking a massive oil spill, said Landrieu.
But it was an over-reaction, she added.
"From 1947 until 2009, there were 42,000 wells drilled in state and federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico and 99 days ago one of them blew up," Landrieu said.
"Eleven men lost their lives but an entire industry has virtually been shut down" by the moratorium, which has been in place for around two months.
Obama imposed the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf to allow a federal commission to determine what caused the deadly blast, and to ensure oil workers are safe and the environment unharmed by energy exploration.
But retired oil worker Troy Lillie, a native of Louisiana, called on Obama to admit the moratorium was a mistake and lift it.
"The moratorium has and will continue to destroy tens of thousands of lives," Lillie said.
She voiced fears the ban could "be the final straw" after four hurricanes, including Katrina in 2005, "in destroying our lives and our way of life."
The moratorium has broken up families, with fathers who once worked on the now idle Gulf rigs forced to leave their families and take jobs overseas or join the ranks of US jobless, other witnesses said at the hearing.
It was imposed "without proper economic analysis and I think the administration will be shocked when they understand how many people this action has put out of work and how many thousands of small businesses are being jeopardized by this action," Landrieu told AFP.
Leslie Bertucci, who runs a small business in Louisiana with her husband, has taken a 75 percent salary cut since the moratorium, in an effort to slash operating costs and avoid laying off workers.
"The moratorium adds insult to injury. The economic ripple effect will be catastrophic to our entire region," Bertucci said.
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London (UPI) Jul 27, 2010
Robert Dudley, BP's newly appointed American chief executive officer, has vowed to keep the company's promises related to cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico and compensating its residents. "We will fulfill the promises we've made to the gulf states and the federal government," Dudley said Tuesday at a briefing in London. "Meeting our commitments in the gulf is critical for BP's long-term s ... read more
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