- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Two months after the oil-rig explosion tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration’s reaction shifted from listless to knee-jerk: a moratorium on all deep-water oil-drilling operations that have blowout preventers. Of course, this came after federal judges twice tossed out the moratoriums that this administration had tried to impose. These efforts make the White House appear to be actively engaged, as though it is actually doing something to help the residents of the Gulf while doing little more than appeasing environmental-activist supporters. Unfortunately for President Obama, those supporters are outnumbered by the tens of thousands who stand to lose their jobs.

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, claims that 40,000 people will be out of work. Gov. Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Republican, predicts the moratorium will cost, directly and indirectly, the jobs of approximately 84,000 people who work in the petroleum industry. Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, has an even higher number that could be impacted: 100,000. Whichever number you chose to believe, a staggering number of people and families will be impacted. This also comes at a time when we have almost 10 percent unemployment nationwide and the Gulf already has had its fishing and tourism industry decimated. Shutting down such an important economic sector will be another crippling blow to the Gulf states.

Furthermore, it will cause long-term hardship to America’s petroleum industry. First, these deep-sea oil rigs will leave the country and be sent to other countries. Companies will not allow these expensive rigs simply to sit idle while the Obama administration dithers, playing politics to make its eco-allies happy. The newest and most technologically advanced rigs will go around the world, leaving the older rigs that are less safe for the environment and for workers to remain here in the U.S. Additionally, to adhere to the Obama moratorium, these wells will be required to be capped. There is a certain amount of danger to capping wells that are being shut down for no other reason than politics. Also, many of these workers will decide there is not a future in the area’s petroleum industry and seek other employment if they can. This will leave less experienced workers on these offshore rigs when/if the administration lifts the prohibition.

A federal judge ruled that the Obama administration was too hasty in its moratorium, ruling that the moratorium was “arbitrary” and “capricious.” This ruling is not stopping the president’s green ideology. Immediately, the administration said it will appeal the ruling, and even more important, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will be looking at a vehicle to reimpose this job-killing ban.

The United States receives one-third of its domestic oil from the Gulf of Mexico and 15 percent of its natural gas. We cannot close off this important reservoir. If we do, we only make ourselves more dependent on foreign sources of oil that frequently are hostile to us and our interests.

None of this seems to matter to this White House. Besides appealing the judge’s ruling, it already has announced its plan to reimpose unilaterally a moratorium that will only further impact an already hemorrhaging area. This administration seems purposely deaf to the pleas of local residents who already have taken a huge financial hit.

This is just another move in Mr. Obama’s war on energy. This administration is systemically attacking coal by holding up permits and suspending them in other cases. This runs counter to what the Obama campaign promised, but it has become clear that this administration is against traditional, affordable forms of energy and is using the oil spill to promote its political agenda.

This country became one of the wealthiest countries in the world because of its access to cheap and affordable energy, which has given us an unparalleled social and economic advancement. We must have an availability of diverse sources of energy based on free-market forces rather than government mandates and preferences, taxpayer subsidies and government-sanctioned consumer gouging. This president is trying to take us on a path that will ration energy and cause prices to skyrocket for every American and every business at a time when we can least afford it.

Mike Carey is president of the American Council for Affordable and Reliable Energy.