In the middle of a recession, with joblessness hovering around the 10% mark, the Obama administration made a deliberate decision to impose a drilling moratorium knowing it would cost at least 23,000 jobs. Why?
Senior Obama administration officials concluded the federal moratorium on deepwater oil drilling would cost roughly 23,000 jobs, but went ahead with the ban because they didn’t trust the industry’s safety equipment and the government’s own inspection process, according to previously undisclosed documents.
Never mind the fact that an event like this had never happened before in deep water. Never mind there were hundreds of deepwater wells functioning properly and well. Never mind that those jobs were well paying jobs and that through their elimination would cause ripple-effect unemployment down the supply chain.
Instead, deliberately trash the lives of 23,000 workers – and their families – because of unfounded fears.
Yeah, that’s leadership, isn’t it?
Asked to comment, a White House spokesman said the administration "well understood, and understands, the enormous importance of oil and gas to the region’s economy," but the potential economic risks from another spill to other elements of the Gulf economy—such as fishing and tourism—also informed the administration’s deliberations, "especially as spill-response resources were fully engaged to address the BP Deepwater Horizon spill."
What “potential economic risk”? What was the “potential” for another such freakish accident? Well the history of deepwater drilling says not very high at all. And while I have some sympathy with the “our spill-response resources were fully engaged”, there were certainly ways to ensure that other operations were safe and following approved drilling procedures.
You know, like put freakin’ inspectors on the deepwater drilling rigs full time to ensure those procedures were followed to the letter. Yeah, a bit of an imposition on the inspectors, but it would have saved 23,000 jobs. So you tell them to suck it up or you’ll find someone who will.
Wondering: do these jobs go in the negative column of the jobs “created and saved” the Obama administration?
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The common sense is found in the decision of Judge Martin Feldman. In his opinion, all the pertinent and sensible questions that should have been a part of the Obama administration’s decision making process are asked – and, to most, the answers are obvious.
If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are? Are all airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines? That sort of thinking seems heavy handed, and rather overbearing.
Over-reaction is one way those that are risk averse and not used to dealing with a crisis handle situations like this.
Throwing common sense out the window, the administration acted like the potential for another Deepwater Horizon was imminent and only shutting everything down would ensure such an occurrence wouldn’t happen. Yet for thousands of square miles, rig after rig has been producing for years without any sort of comparable problem. In fact, Deepwater Horizon is the outlier in deepwater drilling.
It was also an emotional and political response, instead of fact-based one of which our cool, calm and deliberative President is supposed to be famous. Again the judge sticks it to the administration:
Nonetheless, the Secretary’s determination that a six-month moratorium on issuance of new permits and on drilling by the thirty-three rigs is necessary does not seem to be fact-specific and refuses to take into measure the safety records of those others in the Gulf. There is no evidence presented indicating that the Secretary balanced the concern for environmental safety with the policy of making leases available for development. There is no suggestion that the Secretary considered any alternatives…
Of course he’s talking about Secretary Ken Salazar, but it is understood that this decision to declare a 6 month moratorium on drilling came from the top. Judge Feldman notes the administration’s decision was an arbitrary decision, not one that carefully weighed the facts and safety history of the industry and then made a deliberate decision based in fact. Apparently, as the judge notes, no other alternatives were considered.
Lastly, Judge Feldman chastises the administration about their poorly thought-out decision and the impact it has on those that live in the region:
An invalid agency decision to suspend drilling of wells in depths of over 500 feet simply cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country.
Thankfully the judiciary is looking after the “small people” and their livelihoods even if the administration isn’t. Of course, the administration will appeal this common sense decision.
No surprise there.
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