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VIEWPOINTS: Gulf Coast states react to Obama ban

Economic devastation would compound environmental damage

- The Washington Times - Friday, July 16, 2010

Bernard L. Weinstein, Town Talk (Alexandria, La.):

While the moratorium may make for good politics, it constitutes bad economics. Less domestic drilling and production will mean greater reliance on imports that, in turn, could reverse our recent progress in reducing the trade deficit. In addition, thousands of high-paying domestic jobs in the oil and gas industry will be put at risk, at least temporarily.

The International Association of Drilling Contractors estimates up to 10,000 rig jobs could be lost....

Obama's drilling ban has been imposed in response to the incorrect assumption that the oil disaster was about "systemic" failure, when, in fact, it was about human failure.

In short, the April 20 catastrophe resulted from a failure to act on the safety standards that inform the work of each of the thousands of other facilities that operate safely in the Gulf. Now the entire industry is being tarred with the brush that should be reserved for BP.

Unfortunately, the spill in the Gulf of Mexico will reinforce the claims of the anti-drilling crowd that exploring for oil and gas, both offshore and onshore, is inherently dangerous, hazardous to the environment, and runs counter to the goal of developing sustainable energy sources.

True, the Gulf spill is the worst of its kind in the United States since 1969. But in the ensuing 41 years, the industry's safety and environmental record - though not perfect - has been exemplary.

No process of mineral extraction is completely risk-free, and the safety and environmental record of the offshore oil and gas industry certainly compares favorably with that of the coal industry.

The Gulf oil spill will also amplify those voices in Washington who want to hike taxes on the oil and gas industry by roughly $40 billion in order to provide additional subsidies to "safer" energy sources such as wind and solar.

According to the Independent Petroleum Association, these tax increases would fall disproportionately on small drilling companies and could potentially reduce domestic oil and gas production by 20 to 40 percent.

If America is serious about developing its domestic energy resources and reducing reliance on imports, offshore drilling must be part of that strategy.

Terry Cunningham, Tampa Tribune column:

No one is more devastated by the Deepwater Horizon tragedy than the men and women who work in the industry and live along the Gulf. We work hard to provide secure and reliable energy, and we have the proven technology to do it.

In the last 60 years, more than 42,000 wells have been safely drilled in the Gulf without incident. Of those, roughly 2,000 are deepwater wells that produce 80 percent of the oil and 45 percent of the natural gas in the Gulf. Overall, approximately 30 percent of the nation's oil production and 13 percent of its natural gas production comes from the Gulf.

Each day that the moratorium lasts could represent 350,000 barrels of oil of lost production by 2015, which is more oil we'll have to import from foreign countries. Our need for oil isn't going anywhere, and what we don't produce at home will have to be bought elsewhere. The government's Energy Information Administration says we'll need 14 percent more energy by 2035. If we keep these proven Gulf resources off limits, we're not only driving our production and jobs overseas, we're dramatically decreasing our energy security.

We must lift the ban on deepwater drilling, get our people back to work and our rigs up and running again so we can stimulate the economy and help secure our energy future.

Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.) editorial:

So, revamping and putting teeth in offshore drilling regulations and reorganizing and strengthening the monitoring procedures is obviously necessary.

But as has been previously noted, environmentalists who are hoping to extrapolate a reasonable offshore drilling moratorium into a permanent ban on such oil exploration ignore some very basic facts about U.S. oil exploration:

Mississippi and the rest of the Gulf Coast states will suffer severe economic losses as a result of this ill-advised policy. Well over 150,000 people in the Gulf states work directly or indirectly in the offshore oil industry.

The U.S. offshore industry provides 30 percent of the nation's oil production and is the second largest source of commercial revenue to the federal government at $6 billion annually.

The nation's short-term energy security depends on any moratorium on offshore drilling being focused and brief, existing only long enough to reform drilling procedures, safety requirements and independent monitoring.

To do more would be to further harm the Gulf state economies. To do less would be to risk another environmental disaster of similar size and scope.

Efforts by environmentalists and oil companies alike to politicize the drilling moratorium must be called out for what they are - crass politics in the face of an unprecedented fiscal and environmental disaster.

Edited by Claire Gillen, an editorial page intern with The Washington Times.

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