- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 16, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Obama administration’s policy against oil drilling kills American jobs, undermines the economy and violates a judge’s direct order. The full-court press against the oil industry amounts to what Rep. Stephen J. Scalise, Louisiana Republican, calls a “permitorium” on offshore drilling.

The permitorium is what remains after the formal moratorium against deep-water drilling was lifted in October. Bureaucratic foot-dragging on deep-water and safer wells close to shore has put a halt on most new drilling. Currently, 103 applications for drilling permits are sitting on the back burner. Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman held the administration in civil contempt because he ordered permitting to resume last summer.

Administration policies turn away revenue at a time of historic deficits and national debt. According to the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Bluey, the federal government earns royalties of 18.75 percent on offshore production. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects a drop in Gulf of Mexico production of 220,000 barrels per day, or about $3.7 million in daily revenue foregone by the feds. When local and state revenue is included, governments earned $19 billion from offshore wells in 2009. A large majority of that income is gone with the winds of change on Pennsylvania Ave.

“Significant additional revenues would be generated if the federal government opened access to exploration and production in areas currently closed to development such as the eastern Gulf of Mexico, portions of the Rocky Mountains, ANWR and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts,” wrote Mr. Bluey. The American Petroleum Institute estimates the federal government would earn $150 billion from those sources by 2025.

On Friday, Seahawk Drilling, the second-largest shallow-water operator in the Gulf, filed for bankruptcy protection. Reuters described the company’s predicament as “gasping under heavy losses now that no new drilling permits are being issued.” That’s one more employer lost in the black hole of the Obama economy.

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