Are you for armed guards at schools?|
Story Archives: Drilling moratorium hurts Louisiana
- 2013 - 290 articles
- 2012 - 856 articles
- 2011 - 635 articles
- 2010 - 1276 articles
- 2009 - 1591 articles
- 2008 - 1763 articles
|Drilling moratorium hurts Louisiana|
Louisiana's economic pain from President Obama's moratorium on oil drilling becomes more acute with each passing day.
The six-month suspension of deepwater exploratory drilling is shutting down 25 active rigs and five others that were scheduled to launch operations before the end of the year, according to federal regulators. Those rigs, almost all of which are located off Louisiana's coast, normally employ between 24,000 and 42,000 workers. Thousands of other Louisianians work for boat operators, contractors, caterers and other firms that service those platforms.
At least one rig operator, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., said it's moving rigs off our coast to other parts of the world, raising fears that the effects of the moratorium would last much longer because rigs would be tied up elsewhere. Officials at Port Fourchon warned Monday that some port tenants are already considering layoffs.
At the same time, the Obama administration has said that there's no moratorium on new exploration at depths of less than 500 feet. But the Minerals Management Service has had a de-facto moratorium, canceling some permits last week while others have been on hold for almost a month. On Tuesday, the administration announced new safety requirements that reportedly will allow shallow water exploration to resume. Regulators should work with the industry to implement those steps diligently and quickly.
Louisianians understand the urgent need for improving safety on drilling rigs. The disregard for safety from both the industry and from government regulators that led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster should never be inflicted on anyone else.
But the government can take measures to speed up the review and end the deepwater moratorium earlier, at least for some rigs.
Until then, thousands of people employed by the oil industry in our region will be hurting. Yet the administration still has not filled in details on how it plans to prevent irreparable damage to our economy.
The White House on Monday said it expects "BP and other responsible parties" to reimburse rig workers for wages lost during the drilling moratorium. Those losses could range from $150 million to $300 million a month, according to the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.
The White House did not say how it was going to get the company to pay these claims or whether it expects BP to also compensate employers for their losses .
The administration's other proposed solutions, unemployment benefits for workers and Small Business Administration loans for companies, are a start but grossly insufficient. Unemployment benefits would not fully compensate the high wages oil workers earn. As for businesses, Louisiana officials point out that many companies took on heavy debts after Hurricane Katrina and may not able to take on additional loans.
Even as the government suggests that BP may compensate these losses, the company's process to handle claims from fishers is not getting stellar reviews. Adm. Thad Allen on Monday said the process is especially slow for larger businesses. "That may be a little cumbersome right now," he said, promising to meet with BP this week to "try and simplify their ability to actually handle the claims from businesses." That's urgent.
But small companies and individual fishers also are having trouble. At a congressional hearing in Chalmette this week, fishers said they had filed paperwork documenting large losses to BP but received only $5,000 from the company.
BP officials said they have not denied any claims and promised again to live up to their obligations. They urged people who are still awaiting payment on their claims to contact the company to speed up resolution.
Visiting Louisiana last week, President Obama vowed to make sure BP would pay for those damages. The people affected, both in the fishing and oil industry, need to see the results of those promises.
-- The Times-Picayune
|Frank Morris Murder Series|