Your administration’s six-month moratorium has put 25 active rigs out of operation and shelved five others that were supposed to open before year’s end.
That directly impacts as many as 42,000 men and women who work off the Louisiana coast.
And thousands of others are employed by ancillary businesses that provide goods and services to the platforms.
Your own experts know the drilling halt is ill-advised.
In a letter released after the moratorium went into effect, these experts emphatically state: “A blanket moratorium is not the answer. It will not measurably reduce risk further and it will have a lasting impact on the nation’s economy which may be greater than that of the oil spill. We do not believe punishing the innocent is the right thing to do.”
One of the panelists who signed the letter, University of California at Berkeley engineering professor Bob Bea, has said that a moratorium should be reserved for “unconventional, very hazardous operations” and shouldn’t apply to the “majority of conventional offshore operations, (which) meet fundamental requirements for acceptable risks.”
An accident like that on Deepwater Horizon is of course unacceptable. But shutting down every rig as a result is a knee-jerk reaction.
Such accidents are infrequent because the industry has taken measures to reduce such risks, risks that grow the deeper exploration goes.
Penalizing the industry and all those who depend on it when those measures - mechanically or through human error - fail is akin to throwing the baby out with the bath water.
The federal government should hold BP’s feet to the fire, exacting fair recompense to state and local governments and to citizens legitimately suffering economic loss in the spill’s wake.
And it should increase its commitment to coastal protection - in Louisiana and in other states adjacent to the petroleum-rich seas.
Deep water is where the oil is - in enormous quantities, as the spill numbers show - and where BP and others will go to find it.
If they can’t do it off the U.S. coasts, they’ll go elsewhere, and won’t waste time doing it.
The longer you delay in lifting the moratorium, the greater the risk of rigs leaving the Gulf, taking with them the livelihood of many thousands you say your action is designed to protect.
Mr. President, this is not Illinois, insulated from both the favors and fury of the Gulf.
This is South Louisiana. We understand more than you ever will the bounty the Gulf provides us.
We also understand the dangers it can pose - be they the result of human activity or nature’s wrath.
We appreciate your concern, Mr. President, and that of similar-minded people on the national scene.
We entreat everyone to continue pushing as hard as possible for cleanup and recovery, but to give us our lifeline back.