When the BP Gulf oil disaster occurred in April, it was the perfect opportunity for the President to penalize an industry that he obviously despises, the oil and gas industry. An overreaching and illegal moratorium on offshore oil drilling was followed by a de-facto moratorium. Although the moratorium was technically lifted after several excruciating months, very few permits for new drilling are now being issued. This impacts drilling in shallow and deep water sites, as well as onshore.
The loss of jobs has been severe in the Gulf region. According to LSU Professor Joseph R. Mason, the moratorium immediately hit the coast with an economic loss of $5 billion and the departure of approximately 20,000 jobs. The damage to this vital industry has only increased throughout the year, causing much harm to the coastal states.
At a time of rising unemployment, the de-facto moratorium is devastating. The President compounded the misery last week by announcing a five year moratorium on drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. According to Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute, the expanded moratorium will lead to the “loss of tens of thousands of American jobs, billions less in government revenues and an increasing dependence on foreign energy sources.”
During a deep recession, such a cavalier decision seems patently unwise and harmful to our economy, our energy industry and our national security. With such foolish decisions, our country is becoming more dependent on foreign sources of oil. So we fund dictators like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and tyrants in the Middle East, who use our own money to harm the interests of the United States. It is quite a disgusting situation.
Robert Bradley of the Institute for Energy Research notes that the United States is the only country in the world to declare war on its domestic oil industry and prohibit drilling in areas of known reserves. Brazil and other countries are happily accepting the rigs that are being forced to leave the United States.
It seems the administration is purposely working to lose jobs, become more dependent on foreign oil and force motorists to pay higher prices at the pump. This Christmas season, motorists are noticing gasoline prices at nearly $3.00 per gallon, a significant increase from last year. The price of crude is now surpassing $90 per barrel. In response, the United States is limiting the ability of its domestic oil and gas industry to locate and extract critical reserves.
Along with motorists and consumers of petroleum products, more victims of the administration’s antagonism toward the oil industry are the NBA fans in New Orleans. The Hornets, our professional basketball team, has now been purchased by the NBA after a potential sale to minority owner, Gary Chouest, a local oil and gas executive collapsed.
Chouest’s company derives its income from the offshore oil industry. The moratorium has certainly been very harmful to the fortunes of his company and impacted his ability to purchase the team.
With Chouest out of the picture, the NBA will now look for a buyer of the team. When a sports league has to buy a team, it usually means the team will be moving. So, we might soon be saying goodbye to the New Orleans Hornets and hello to the Seattle Hornets.
Local basketball fans, which have been very supportive of the Hornets, may now lose this entertainment option for their families. If the team leaves, the State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans will lose much needed tax revenue and plenty of national prestige. The area will also have to say goodbye to millions of dollars orth of positive publicity from being part of such a popular league with worldwide followers.
The administration’s war on the oil industry has claimed many victims indeed.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].
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