The oil spill in the Gulf is a tragedy in every sense of the word. The images coming from the Gulf are distressing, and the deaths of 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig are heartbreaking. However, it is very important to remember that this accident is an anomaly. The human error and/or failure of the rig’s state-of-the-art equipment require a complete explanation, and the cleanup operation deserves our full support. Still, we cannot afford to further harm our nation’s economy by halting our offshore drilling, which is why I am calling on President Obama to lift his recently imposed six month moratorium on deepwater drilling and asked that he refrain from imposing a moratorium on shallow water drilling.
The government’s most recent data show that between 1985 and 2001, more than 7 billion barrels of oil have been produced in federal offshore waters with less than 0.001% spilled – a 99.999% record for clean operations. More than 35,000 oil and gas wells have been drilled in American waters without a single major blowout. This superb record of cleanliness and safety must be remembered throughout this debate. Our offshore energy industry follows the world’s strictest standards for human safety and environmental protection. Halting offshore drilling only makes us more dependent on potentially hostile nations with lax or sub-par safety and environmental standards for our energy needs. Rather than eliminating environmental risks, we would simply be exporting them, along with thousands of American jobs.
The fact that this tragedy struck while our country is mired in a deep economic recession only reinforces the need to act with proper restraint. Already, local economies are feeling the devastating effects of the oil spill. Shutting down deepwater drilling at this time would do nothing but kill jobs and slow our economic recovery. The Louisiana Department of Economic Development estimates that over 20,000 jobs could be lost if this moratorium remains in place for an extended period.
I am sending a letter to President Obama outlining these concerns and asking him to lift the moratorium. Destabilizing our economy and endangering our nation’s energy security is no way for the President to respond to public criticism about his handling of the situation.