Obama Further Punishes Gulf Economy with Oil Production Moratorium

Published June 17, 2010

In a move that will strangle oil companies who have followed industry safety standards, President Obama ordered a six-month moratorium on all oil and natural gas production in the Gulf—applying to all oil companies—while BP and the Obama administration focus on BP oil spill cleanup efforts.

The Obama administration claimed the moratorium was recommended by a seven-member panel appointed by the National Academy of Engineering. However, the seven experts who made up the panel said they made no such recommendation. They said that after submitting a written report containing several recommendations, the Obama administration surreptitiously added two paragraphs recommending a six-month moratorium on oil and natural gas production in the Gulf.

“What was in the report at the time it was reviewed was quite a bit different in its impact to what there is now. So we want to distance ourselves from that recommendation,” panel participant Ken Arnold told Fox News.

Job Losses Expected
Louisiana alone could lose 20,000 jobs as a result of the moratorium, the Louisiana Department of Economic Development reported.

“The moratorium is wrecking the economy down here…you take fishing and you take petroleum away down here and you don’t have a whole lot left,” said James Carville, a Louisiana native and Democratic political advisor, on the June 14 ABC Evening News.

Oil Companies Fleeing
In response to the moratorium, oil companies have begun moving their most modern and technologically advanced rigs out of the Gulf of Mexico to fields off the shores of Great Britain and Africa, leaving only the most dated and technologically inferior rigs available for renewed oil and natural gas production when the moratorium expires.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) warned the moratorium would not only hurt the U.S. economy but also make the nation even more reliant on foreign oil, as the most technologically advanced rigs are unlikely to return anytime soon.

“Saudi Arabia will be happy. [Venezuelan President] Hugo Chavez, [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, they’ll be popping champagne,” said Upton  according to the June 15, Economic Times.

“You can’t take away a major source of domestic energy production and eliminate tens of thousands of jobs without there being substantial negative repercussions,” said Jay Lehr, science director for the Heartland Institute. “Obama’s oil moratorium may score points with environmental activist groups, but it merely punishes BP’s competitors who do not act recklessly and throws thousands of people out of work during what is already the worst economy in 70 years.”

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.