The following appeared in the July 13, 2010, edition of The Houston Chronicle in the "Barrells and BTUs" blog of Bruce Bullock, director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute.
July 15, 2010
For those of you who haven't read the Obama Administration's latest attempt at a drilling moratorium, Secretary Salazar's Decision Memo can be found at this link.
Most of the memo tries to justify its first moratorium which was struck down by a federal court. Despite providing a process by which the Interior Department will gather information on drilling risks that could form the basis for lifting the moratorium, the decision's effect is the same -- a defacto moratorium on drilling. Fewer American jobs, more imported oil, and greater environmental harm will result. Oil will over time be transported to the U.S. instead of produced. Transportation of oil by tanker is known to be far riskier than exploration and production. Further, Americans' dollars will be going to oil developments in countries like Nigeria, where the total annual oil spills equal the volume of the Exxon Valdez spill. This decision is not just bad economics, its bad for the environment as well.
No one argues that drilling should only proceed when safe. The Administration has the power to issue and deny drilling permits. Why not issue permit when the following conditions are met:
- Spill response plans are deemed adequate.
- Blowout preventers have been tested and are performing to design standards.
- Best practice management and engineering standards are followed for each well.
- Inspections of all rigs has been completed.
Requiring all of these conditions is within the current statutory authority of the federal government.
Instead, the Administration has decided to continue to make a political point and is clearly more worried about Senate races in Florida and California than jobs, economic activity and the true cost to the environment.
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