It goes without saying that thousands of people who depend on Gulf tourism or aquaculture have suffered an economic impact in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. They may suffer for months or years due to the loss of income during this period when these industries would normally be producing.
But there is another group which has been thrown out of work at a time when they, too, would normally be producing – those who ply their trade in helping to provide America’s energy needs. As the group Freedom Action notes:
Freedom Action calls on President Obama to immediately lift the damaging, counterproductive ban on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The six-month ban, which has closed down dozens of safe, productive operations, is doing nothing to help clean up the spill…but is keeping thousands of oil and gas workers from making a living and having a far larger economic impact throughout the region.
“In a knee-jerk move with perverse consequences, the President’s total ban on drilling in the Gulf has created further hardship for communities already reeling from the impact of the BP spill,” said Myron Ebell, Director of Freedom Action. “Now in addition to the tourism and fishing sectors – which together account for about 5% of Louisiana’s economy – the oil and gas sector – which accounts for 16% – is also being knocked down at exactly a time when its high-paying jobs could be helping to support families in the region.”
Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Mary Landrieu have already spoken out strongly against the White House’s blanket ban, urging the President to allow offshore platforms to re-open and begin providing energy again to the American people. Sen. Landrieu has even proposed a list of several possible alternatives to the ban, including increased safety inspections, while at the same time pointing out that continuing with the current policy could cost as many as 38,000 jobs.
“The empathy and concern from around the country for the affected residents of the Gulf Coast has been tremendous, and it is understandable that Americans would want to see a policy that protects the area from further harm,” said Ebell. “But keeping locals from making a living and sabotaging their economic recovery so that a handful of environmentalists and Washington politicians can congratulate each other on their concern for wildlife is an arrogant and immoral policy. President Obama needs to remove the drilling ban now.”
Allow me to restate one factoid mentioned in the Freedom Action release for you. We see the pictures and interviews of shrimpers idled by the oil spill, and yes they do contribute to the economy of the state of Louisiana. But the energy industry contributes over three times as much and, as I have pointed out, had a long unblemished safety record even through some of the nastiest Mother Nature could throw at them – including Hurricane Katrina.
Even thousands of miles away, our Governor O’Malley and Senator Cardin smirk and gladly dismiss the prospect of offshore oil drilling off Maryland’s coast, regardless of the number of jobs which could be created. To be honest, it’s only a guess to this point whether there’s enough oil and natural gas offshore this far north to be commercially viable for collection, and it would take exploratory wells just to find out.
To me, it’s shortsighted to dismiss out of hand energy sources proven to be successful at powering our nation’s prosperity. The Gulf shores will eventually be cleaned up just as Alaska’s Prince William Sound has been after the Exxon Valdez accident, hopefully without completely bankrupting British Petroleum (a company which obviously has capping the well as its best interest too since otherwise millions of dollars’ worth of oil gushes forth on a daily basis.)
The answer is not in banning deepwater offshore drilling, but encouraging energy production in shallower waters and in areas where reserves are proven to be but overzealous environmentalism prohibits production. We have plenty of oil within our borders – what we need are the stones (and the courts) to tell the environmentalist wackos to go pound sand.
By the way, I’ve caught wind of a local effort to help out with the cleanup – a number of area musicians are putting together plans for a benefit concert to raise funds for the cleanup. Obviously I’ll see what I can find out and pass it along.