Obama jobs death toll: Killing the drilling industry

Obama jobs death toll: Killing the drilling industry

By Michelle Malkin  •  January 3, 2011 10:31 AM


Grim reaper photoshop credit: Manly Rash

You already knew that the election-season “lifting” of President Obama’s deepwater drilling moratorium was a sham announcement. Loathsome cowboy Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and radical eco-czar Carol Browner have lied through their teeth from day one about the rationale and impact of their job-killing policies not only on deepwater drilling, but shallow drilling, tourism, and the entire Gulf Coast economy.

Here’s more evidence of their destruction via the WSJ:

More than two months after the Obama administration lifted its ban on drilling in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico, oil companies are still waiting for approval to drill the first new oil well there. Experts now expect the wait to continue until the second half of 2011, and perhaps into 2012.

…the delay is hurting big oil companies such as Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which have billions of dollars in investments tied up in Gulf projects that are on hold and are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a day for rigs that aren’t allowed to drill. Smaller operators such as ATP Oil & Gas Corp., which have less flexibility to focus on projects in other regions, have been even harder hit.

The impact of the delays goes beyond the oil industry. The Gulf coast economy has been hit hard by the slowdown in drilling activity, especially because the oil spill also hurt the region’s fishing and tourism industries. The Obama administration in September estimated that 8,000 to 12,000 workers could lose their jobs temporarily as a result of the moratorium; some independent estimates have been much higher.

The slowdown also has long-term implications for U.S. oil production…

This is unconscionable.

As they return to Washington this week, House Republicans should be putting Salazar/Browner and the White House War on Jobs on the hot seat every chance they get.

White House will appeal ruling on drilling

White House will appeal ruling on drilling

WASHINGTON
Tue Jun 22, 2010 1:57pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The government will immediately appeal a U.S. judge’s ruling on Tuesday against the Obama administration’s six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Barack Obama

“The president strongly believes… that continuing to drill at these depths without knowing what happened does not make any sense, and puts the safety of those involved…and the environment in the Gulf at a danger that the president does not believe we can afford right now,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Deepwater Drilling Ban Lifted by New Orleans Federal Judge

Deepwater Drilling Ban Lifted by New Orleans Federal Judge

By Laurel Brubaker Calkins and Margaret Cronin Fisk – Jun 22, 2010
U.S. Deepwater Drilling Ban Lifted

Cranes load and unload ships normally used for offshore drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico in Port Fourchon, Louisiana. Photographer: Derick E. Hingle/Bloomberg

A New Orleans federal judge lifted the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed by President Barack Obama following the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Drilling services shares jumped on the news.

Obama temporarily halted all drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet on May 27 to give a presidential commission time to study improvements in the safety of offshore operations. More than a dozen Louisiana offshore service and supply companies sued U.S. regulators to lift the ban. The U.S. said it will appeal the decision.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman today granted a preliminary injunction, halting the moratorium. He also “immediately prohibited” the U.S. from enforcing the ban. Government lawyers told Feldman that ban was based on findings in a U.S. report following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig off the Louisiana coast in April.

“The court is unable to divine or fathom a relationship between the findings and the immense scope of the moratorium,” Feldman said in his 22-page decision. “The blanket moratorium, with no parameters, seems to assume that because one rig failed and although no one yet fully knows why, all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet also universally present an imminent danger.”

Separate Order

“The court cannot substitute its judgment for that of the agency, but the agency must ‘cogently explain why it has exercised its discretion in a given manner,’” Feldman said, citing a previous ruling. “It has not done so.”

Feldman in a separate order today “immediately prohibited” the U.S. from enforcing the drilling moratorium, finding the offshore companies would otherwise incur “irreparable harm.”

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that “continuing to drill at these depths without knowing what happened does not make any sense.”

Transocean Ltd., which leased the Deepwater Horizon to BP Plc, jumped as much as 3.5 percent in New York trading after the decision was announced. Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc., which brought the suit, surged as much as 11 percent.

The U.S. argued that the moratorium was necessary to assure public safety.

“We need to make sure deepwater drilling is as safe as we thought it was the day before this incident,” Brian Collins, a lawyer for the government, told Feldman in a court hearing June 21. “It is crucial to take the time because to fail to do so would be to gamble with the long-term future of this region.”

Biggest Quantity

BP has two pipes collecting oil and gas from the ocean floor. They collected 25,830 barrels of oil yesterday, the biggest quantity diverted from the Gulf of Mexico since the April 20 spill began, London-based BP said in a statement. BP spokesman David Nicholas declined to comment on the ruling, saying the company was not a party to the case.

Lawyers for the drilling companies told Feldman the moratorium illegally sidesteps a required industry comment period. They also said regulators failed to tell Obama that all active deepwater rigs passed an immediate re-inspection after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, with only two rigs reporting minor violations and the rest getting approval to continue operations.

Henry Dart, special counsel for the Louisiana attorney general, told Feldman that federal regulators failed to consult with state officials about the impact of the drilling ban, allegedly violating U.S. law.

Jobs in Danger

“Even after the catastrophic events of Sept. 11, the government only shut down the airlines for three days,” Louisiana said in court papers seeking to lift the ban.

Lawyers for the state and oilfield companies told Feldman that the ban could cost as many as 20,000 jobs if the moratorium lasted 18 months.

“The defendants trivialize such losses by characterizing them as merely a small percentage of the drilling rigs affected, but it does not follow that this will somehow reduce the convincing harm suffered,” Feldman said. He said the economic impacts of the ban would “clearly ripple throughout the economy of this region.”

Feldman granted the injunction after finding it likely the oilfield companies will succeed in proving “the agency’s decision was arbitrary and capricious,” which violates federal law governing policy decisions.

‘Immeasurable’ Effect

“An invalid agency decision to suspend drilling of wells in depths 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 the country,” Feldman said.

“Today’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman is an important step in returning thousands of oil service workers to their jobs,” Royal Dutch Shell Plc spokesman Bill Tanner said in an e-mailed statement.

“Shell remains confident in its expertise and procedures to safely drill and complete deepwater wells.” Shell’s safety standards often exceed regulatory requirements and include including a rigorous training program for well engineers, Tanner said.

Kjersti Torgersen, a spokeswoman for Statoil ASA in Houston, did not immediately respond to a telephone call seeking comment. Todd M. Hornbeck, CEO of Hornbeck Offshore, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

Little Change

Realistically, not a lot has changed, said Jud Bailey, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. in Houston.

“It’s a small victory for the industry, but clearly the administration has dug in its heels and is going to try to keep this moratorium, come hell or high water,” Bailey said today in a telephone interview. “Investors, as it relates to the drillers, are for the most part staying away. There’s too much uncertainty, too much headline risk.”

Bailey said he doesn’t think many operators would run out and immediately try to resume operations. “You run the risk of this getting overturned by the appellate court,” he said.

The case is Hornbeck Offshore Services LLC v. Salazar, 2:10-cv-01663, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

The Big Lie used to justify drilling moratorium

The Big Lie used to justify drilling moratorium

Rick Moran

The Obama administration used the names of drilling experts to justify a ban on deep water drilling – despite the fact that 8 of these experts who were listed in the Interior Department report used as a basis for the moratorium say that their names had been used to justify a political decision:

When President Obama last month announced his six-month deepwater moratorium, he pointed to an Interior Department report of new “safety” recommendations. That report prominently noted that the recommendations it contained-including the six-month drilling ban-had been “peer-reviewed” by “experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.” It also boasted that Interior “consulted with a wide range” of other experts. The clear implication was that the nation’s drilling brain trust agreed a moratorium was necessary.As these columns reported last week, the opposite is true. In a scathing document, eight of the “experts” the Administration listed in its report said their names had been “used” to “justify” a “political decision.” The draft they reviewed had not included a six-month drilling moratorium. The Administration added that provision only after it had secured sign-off. In their document, the eight forcefully rejected a moratorium, which they argued could prove more economically devastating than the oil spill itself and “counterproductive” to “safety.”

The Administration insisted this was much ado about nothing. An Interior spokesman claimed the experts clearly had been called to review the report on a “technical basis,” whereas the moratorium was a “comprehensive” question. Obama environment czar Carol Browner declared: “No one’s been deceived or misrepresented.” Really? We can only imagine the uproar if a group of climate scientists had claimed the Bush Administration misappropriated their views.

It gets worse.

The experts were certainly under the impression they were reviewing a comprehensive document, as some of the recommendations would take six months or even a year to implement. And the report they agreed to did address moratoria: It recommended a six-month ban on new deepwater permits. Yet Benton Baugh, president of Radoil, said that in at least two separate hour-and-a-half phone calls among Interior and the experts, there was no discussion of a moratorium on existing drilling. “Because if anybody had [made that suggestion], we’d have said ‘that’s craziness.'” 

The Obama administration is almost as good at “craziness” as they are at lying.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky

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