Landrieu Urges Oil Spill Commission to Reconsider Plans for Prolonged Deepwater Drilling Moratorium

June 23, 2010

(Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — In a letter to William Reilly, Co-Chairman of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today urged the commission to reconsider plans for a prolonged deepwater drilling moratorium. Landrieu’s letter comes in response to a report in yesterday’s New York Times that Chairman Reilly said it was unlikely that the panel would recommend the lifting of the six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling before it completed its report. According to the Times, the commission’s report would likely not be completed until sometime next year.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman blocked the Obama Administration’s arbitrary six-month deepwater drilling moratorium. However, Department of the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, announced the Administration planned to issue a new moratorium.

“Unfortunately, the Administration is fighting this Court decision,” Sen. Landrieu wrote. “Instead of striking a balance and pursuing an alternative approach that would make the industry safer without putting tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents out of work, Secretary Salazar has declared, ‘Based on this ever-growing evidence, I will issue a new order in the coming days that eliminates any doubt that a moratorium is needed, appropriate, and within our authorities.’

“That statement reflects an unwillingness to acknowledge the hardships this policy is causing to Gulf workers. Even more troubling, it came hard on the heels of remarks attributed to you in yesterday’s New York Times, indicating that your panel is unlikely to meet before mid-July and that you do not anticipate lifting the moratorium before six months has elapsed. This is unacceptable.”

In the letter, Sen. Landrieu asked Chairman Reilly to understand the economic impact the moratorium is having on the region, pointing out that the drilling suspension is expected to result in the loss of between 3,000 to 6,000 Louisiana jobs in the first two to three weeks; 10,000 jobs within a few months; and some 20,000 existing and potential new jobs if the federal panel takes longer than six months to do their reviews and write their reports. She also asked the panel to act more urgently in conducting its review.

“Whether you support offshore drilling or not, you must concede that labor impacts of that magnitude demand a sense of urgency” Sen. Landrieu wrote. “Your decision to delay even an initial meeting of the commission until mid-July does not convey an adequate appreciation of this urgency.”

Sen. Landrieu included a copy of a letter she sent to President Obama earlier this month outlining a series of steps to safely move forward with offshore energy production without imposing an arbitrary six-month drilling moratorium that could cost Gulf Coast residents tens of thousands of jobs.

In the letter, Sen. Landrieu acknowledged the importance of ensuring another accident of this magnitude can never happen again. But rather than endorsing a six-month “pause” for deepwater drilling operations in federal waters, Sen. Landrieu identified eight recommendations that could achieve the Administration’s safety and oversight goals without crippling Gulf states’ economies.

To view the full letter to Chairman Reilly, please visit:
http://landrieu.senate.gov/mediacenter/upload/10.06.23_Letter.pdf

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