Thursday, 02 December 2010 16:58

Jindal, Landrieu, Crist, Oil, Environment Groups Disagree Over Obama’s Oil Reversal

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The Obama administration Wednesday reversed a policy it announced in earlier this year weeks prior to the BP oil spill and said it will not pursue offshore oil exploration either in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or along the Atlantic coast. 

The decision has been criticized and praised by various government officials from Louisiana US Senator Mary Landrieu and Governor Bobby Jindal to oppose the administration on the issue to Charles Crist current Florida Governor who is pleased with the reversal.

Here is a taste of opinions, both pro and against from some of those who have a major stake in the outcome.

“What it means is they’ve learned a great deal from the Macondo blowout and they’re taking a lot of places off the table that originally were going to be considered,” said Marilyn Heiman, an oceans expert at the Pew Environment Group. She said she was troubled, however, by the decision to move forward with exploration off Alaska. “They still need to learn a lot more as it relates to drilling in the Arctic.”

(Statement Published in New York Times)

American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard warned that the administration’s decision today could result in the loss of tens of thousands of American jobs, billions less in government revenues and an increasing dependence on foreign energy sources:

“As our country looks for ways out of the hole of lackluster economic growth and job creation, today’s decision shows that this administration would rather keep digging than take the ladder to increased economic prosperity offered by developing our nation’s domestic energy resources.

“The oil and natural gas industry is a reliable vehicle for growing the economy and creating good-paying jobs. This decision shuts the door on new development off our nation’s coasts and effectively ensures that new American jobs will not be realized. It will stifle investment, deny billions in revenue for critical government services and increase our dependence on foreign energy sources.

“The oil and natural gas industry is committed to safe and environmentally responsible operations, and both the industry and regulators have added new safeguards to ensure such operations.This reversal on new lease sales off America’s coasts comes on top of a de facto moratorium, which has all but stopped new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.”

API represents more than 400 oil and natural gas companies, leaders of a technology-driven industry that supplies most of America's energy, supports more than 9.2 million U.S. jobs and 7.5 percent of the U.S. economy, and, since 2000, has invested nearly $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives.

American Petroleum Institute

Using the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as pretext, the Secretary of the Interior announced that in light of the lessons learned this summer and the resulting pursuit of new protocol regarding “equipment, safety and oversight” only areas currently open for leasing will be considered in the next Five Year Oil and Gas Leasing Plan (2012-2017). 


Therefore, the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, the Mid Atlantic and the South Atlantic planning areas will not be included in the next five-year leasing plan.  The Western Gulf of Mexico, Central Gulf of Mexico, the Cook Inlet, and the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the Arctic will continue to be considered for potential leasing in the 2012 to 2017 plan.


Under the current 2007-2012 Lease Plan Lease, auctions in the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico are currently scheduled to begin about 12 months, after the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) completes appropriate environmental analyses that take into account effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This means that sales scheduled in 2011 can only proceed following the completion of this environmental work. Given the uncertainty of the speed with which these studies will be completed, the 2011 sales will, most likely be delayed, perhaps cancelled. 


The Secretary also left the door ajar about the future fate of the leasing program even following the completion of the environmental work for the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico by stating that “Analyses and public meetings will also take place to help determine if additional lease sales in these areas should proceed as part of the 2012-2017 program.


In announcing this revised oil and gas strategy for the OCS, the Department released the following background documents:

US Oil & Gas Association

“Today’s announcement by Secretary Salazar to limit areas in the Atlantic and Eastern Gulf of Mexico is major step backwards for our nation’s energy security.  The original 5-year plan, when it was announced in March, signaled that this administration was serious about jobs and our nation’s energy security.  Unfortunately, despite the rigorous new safety regulations that are now required as a result of the Deepwater Horizon accident, this Administration has decided to make a U-turn. 

“The only glimmer of good news is that BOEM plans to move forward with drilling off the coast of Alaska.  I appreciate BOEM’s expeditious review, but there are other agencies involved with this decision and I encourage them to expedite their reviews as well so that this activity can finally move forward.”   

US Senator, Mary Landrieu

“Affordable domestic energy drives economic growth and helps keep consumer costs down, but with this announcement the White House has essentially thrown that economic engine in reverse,” said Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council.  “What’s worse, the refusal to tap vast amounts of America’s own energy supplies will hurt us today and decades into the future when new drilling would start to bear fruit. “


“America needs a balanced energy policy that utilizes all energy sources to meet growing demand and ensure manufacturers can remain competitive around the world,” Dooley continued.  “By essentially striking one major energy source from the list, the administration has put America’s energy security at risk.” 

The American Chemistry Council

“This announcement from the Obama administration today will undoubtedly send more economic capital and even more jobs overseas, in the wake of those oil rigs that already left our waters for Egypt, the Congo and Nigeria during the ‘arbitrary and capricious’ moratorium on deepwater drilling. Instead of focusing on moving quickly to improve the safety of operations here in the United States, the Administration chose further delays that will likely send drilling operations across the world to drill under far less safety restrictions than we have here. The increased uncertainty from the federal government continues to make the Gulf a less attractive place for economic investment and will instead bring jobs and capital to the shores of other countries while making our nation more dependent on foreign sources of energy.” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

"By continuing to keep most of America's abundant oil and natural gas resources under lock and key, the Obama administration is ensuring that we will continue to increase our dependence on foreign oil, which threatens our national security," said Karen Harbert, president and chief executive of the chamber's Institute for 21st Century Energy. (From Huffington Post)

"I think it sends a very clear signal that there is an attitude of protecting Florida's beaches and the Gulf Coast, in particular the eastern Gulf of Mexico," Florida Governor Charlie Crist

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