Obama’s Interior Chokehold on America

Obama’s Interior Chokehold on America

By Jim
Adams

How could a bureaucratic bottleneck in the Gulf of
Mexico cost the U.S. economy nearly $20 billion and wipe out hundreds of
thousands of jobs as far away as Ohio, Pennsylvania and
California? Unfortunately, with this White House administration, anything is
possible.

President Obama recently announced yet another jobs
initiative — knowing all the while that one very simple action on his part
would indeed create new jobs, infuse federal and state budgets with billions of
dollars, and make us less reliant on imports. But that didn’t
happen.

On Oct. 12, 2010, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said,
“We’re open for business,” signaling that drilling for new oil in the Gulf of
Mexico would resume. But, Mr. Salazar has an odd interpretation of the words
“open for business.”

Eleven months after the Secretary’s announcement,
drilling in the Gulf remains near a standstill. The government has used every
stall tactic imaginable to delay permits and other administrative approvals that
would help our economy and put hundreds of thousands back to
work.

The Gulf
Economic Survival Team
(GEST) commissioned IHS Global Insight and IHS CERA
Inc. to quantify the economic impacts of the government’s slow pace of
permitting since lifting the moratorium. Their study revealed that the number of exploration plans and
permit applications are on par with levels in 2009 through early 2010, clearly
signaling the industry’s intent to return to full operations. Industry also has
invested billions of dollars in well containment technology to stop a
Macondo-size spill if it ever became necessary. So safety can no longer be
blamed for permitting delays.

That leaves the Department of the Interior. The
IHS study points to a backlog of project approvals. Despite their earnest
efforts to process the growing stack of applications, regulators on the front
line don’t appear to understand the new regulations that Washington D.C. has
foisted upon them.  The blame for this falls squarely on the shoulders of this
Administration’s politically appointed bureaucrats, who know nothing of the
complexities involved in safe and environmentally sound deepwater drilling.
Naturally, they don’t let expertise or experience get in the way, they just pile
on more regulations.

This politically minded bureaucracy comes at
tremendous cost.

The number of people who depend on a thriving oil and
gas industry is staggering. Another research study, by
Quest Offshore Resources, found that energy production in the Gulf of Mexico
employed 240,000 Americans in 2010. And not all of them worked directly for the
oil and natural gas industry, as oil rigs need everything from steel pipes to IT
support.

What’s more, the effects of the government’s continued
foot-dragging isn’t limited to the Gulf. The study’s authors found that for
every industry job tied to operations in the Gulf, three non-industry jobs are
reliant in sectors such as manufacturing, construction and real estate. And for
every three Gulf Coast workers, there’s one American employed elsewhere — in
New York, Michigan, California, Oklahoma, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois
and nearly every other state.

The Quest study also came to a distressing conclusion:
Had the Administration truly lifted the moratorium last October, the industry
would have created nearly 190,000 more jobs in the U.S. over a three-year
period. That would have meant 8,500 additional jobs in California, where
unemployment currently flirts with 12 percent; 10,000 more jobs in Pennsylvania
and Ohio, manufacturing-dependent states; and in the President’s home state of
Illinois, a total of 3,000 jobs.

Keeping Americans out of work. Denying struggling
state and local governments billions of dollars in additional revenue. Making us
more dependent on energy imports. Is this the change Mr. Obama says we can
believe in?

Or can we only believe in shovel-ready jobs if they’re
created by the alternative energy industry? Would we even be having this
yearlong debate if solar energy producers contributed more than $12 billion a
year in tax and royalty revenues to state and federal treasuries? What if hydro
energy producers accounted for $44 billion of GDP? The only thing separating
190,000 Americans from a paycheck and states from more than $7 billion in local
taxes is obvious: Political will.

President Obama talks about job growth, stimulating
the economy and investing in innovation that will lead the way forward, but
turns a blind eye to an obvious, if not practical, solution. Mr President: Lift
your de facto moratorium on energy exploration in the Gulf of Mexico; business
will safely do the rest.

Jim Adams is president and CEO of Offshore Marine
Service Association, which represents the owners and operators of U.S. flag
offshore service vessels and the shipyards and other businesses that support
that industry.

Obama’s drilling moratorium causes major company to go bankrupt

Obama’s drilling moratorium causes major company to go bankrupt

Ed Lasky

 

On top of tens of thousands of workers losing their jobs
when Obama imposed a drilling moratorium by executive order (and fudging what
scientists and experts believed in order to justify his moratorium) now comes
news that Seahawk Drilling, a major publicly-held drilling services company, has
declared bankruptcy due to the sharp decline in Gulf drilling work.
From USA
Today:

Seahawk Drilling Inc. said it has filed for bankruptcy protection and plans
to sell its fleet of offshore drilling rigs to a competitor for $105
million.
Seahawk, which announced the deal with Hercules Offshore Inc. Friday, has
been hurt by a slowdown in Gulf of Mexico drilling after the BP oil spill last
April. The government halted drilling in deep waters and imposed tough new rules
that have curtained all energy exploration in U.S. waters.

Employees will be let go; shareholders are suffering big losses as the stock
plunges. Gulf communities have already been stricken by big job losses and
declines in state tax revenues. We have become even more dangerously dependent
on overseas sources of crude and prices have skyrocketed as Obama turned the
handle to the off position when it comes to Gulf oil drilling.
There has been a lot of damage caused by Barack Obama’s policies and there
will be a lot more to come as long as he is in office.

 

As transparent as crude oil.

As transparent as crude oil.

Aaron Gee

The Federal Government and the Coast Guard have issued new restrictions on press access to the Gulf oil spill and clean up.  Reporters are not allowed within 65 feet of any cleanup vessel, or booms on land or in water.  Failure to obey these directives is a class D Felony, with fines up to $40,000. This comes on the heals of a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report that found that the Obama administration had repeatedly provided false information on what assets were being used in the clean up, when officials knew about the leak, and the depth of Federal involvement in the operations. 

President Obama has been remarkably thin skinned and it’s clear from my perspective that Obama is trying desperately to control the negative images that come from the gulf oil disaster.  The Press restrictions are so egregious that even CNN’s Anderson Cooper is upset.  In his broadcast (embedded video) he repeatedly says “we are not the enemy here”, referring to the press. The recent actions by the Coast Guard , in direct contradiction to their earlier statements, have more and more reporters hopping mad. The clear implication of these actions is that Administrations is trying to cover up government incompetence and failure. 

The new restrictions on press access aren’t the only issue, another problem is that the media is still reluctant to place blame for government incompetence at the feet of Obama. Instead of looking to the Obama Administration in light of the new regulations, the media is blaming Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen. It would seem that the press still doesn’t understand what the term “Commander-in-Chief” actually means.  The US Military has always been a favorite press target and the recent criticisms continue the trend.

Sadly, the media still doesn’t “get it”.  They are being played just as eloquently now as they were during the 2008 campaign.  Our “watchdog” press has been fawning over President Obama in spite of his unkept promises, cover ups, and incompetence.  The masters of spin and distraction at the White House know this and are hard at work  on a new story line for the media to swallow.  In the fairy tale version of events Obama will have done nothing wrong but the bad Coast Guard (Military types) and evil BP (Corporate types) will be obstructing the President’s attempt to be transparent and clean up the gulf.  Expect the White House to push this storyline and expect the media to go along despite all evidence to the contrary.  Expect the American people to not be so easily fooled.

Federal Gov’t Halts Sand Berm Dredging

Federal Gov’t Halts Sand Berm Dredging

Nungesser Pleads With President To Allow Work To Continue

 

POSTED: 5:37 pm CDT June 22, 2010
UPDATED: 9:21 am CDT June 23, 2010

 

NEW ORLEANS — The federal government is shutting down the dredging that was being done to create protective sand berms in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The berms are meant to protect the Louisiana coastline from oil. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department has concerns about where the dredging is being done. 

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who was one of the most vocal advocates of the dredging plan, has sent a letter to President Barack Obama, pleading for the work to continue. 

Nungesser said the government has asked crews to move the dredging site two more miles farther off the coastline. 

“Once again, our government resource agencies, which are intended to protect us, are now leaving us vulnerable to the destruction of our coastline and marshes by the impending oil,” Nungesser wrote to Obama. “Furthermore, with the threat of hurricanes or tropical storms, we are being put at an increased risk for devastation to our area from the intrusion of oil. 

Nungesser has asked for the dredging to continue for the next seven days, the amount of time it would take to move the dredging operations two miles and out resume work. 

Work is scheduled to halt at midnight Wednesday. 

The California dredge located off the Chandelier Islands has pumped more than 50,000 cubic yards of material daily to create a sand berm, according to Plaquemines Parish officials. 

Nungesser’s letter includes an emotional plea to the president. 

“Please don’t let them shut this dredge down,” he wrote. “This requires your immediate attention!” 

 

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).

Obama spill panel big on policy, not engineering

Obama spill panel big on policy, not engineering

By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein, Ap Science Writer Sun Jun 20, 12:02 am ET

WASHINGTON – The panel appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is short on technical expertise but long on talking publicly about “America’s addiction to oil.” One member has blogged about it regularly.

Only one of the seven commissioners, the dean of Harvard’s engineering and applied sciences school, has a prominent engineering background — but it’s in optics and physics. Another is an environmental scientist with expertise in coastal areas and the after-effects of oil spills. Both are praised by other scientists.

The five other commissioners are experts in policy and management.

The White House said the commission will focus on the government’s “too cozy” relationship with the oil industry. A presidential spokesman said panel members will “consult the best minds and subject matter experts” as they do their work.

The commission has yet to meet, yet some panel members had made their views known.

Environmental activist Frances Beinecke on May 27 blogged: “We can blame BP for the disaster and we should. We can blame lack of adequate government oversight for the disaster and we should. But in the end, we also must place the blame where it originated: America’s addiction to oil.” And on June 3, May 27, May 22, May 18, May 4, she called for bans on drilling offshore and the Arctic.

“Even as questions persist, there is one thing I know for certain: the Gulf oil spill isn’t just an accident. It’s the result of a failed energy policy,” Beinecke wrote on May 20.

Two other commissioners also have gone public to urge bans on drilling.

Co-chairman Bob Graham, a Democrat who was Florida governor and later a senator, led efforts to prevent drilling off his state’s coast. Commissioner Donald Boesch of the University of Maryland wrote in a Washington Post blog that the federal government had planned to allow oil drilling off the Virginia coast and “that probably will and should be delayed.”

Boesch, who has made scientific assessments of oil spills’ effects on the ecosystem, said usually oil spills are small. But he added, “The impacts of the oil and gas extraction industry (both coastal and offshore) on Gulf Coast wetlands represent an environmental catastrophe of massive and underappreciated proportions.”

An expert not on the commission, Granger Morgan, head of the engineering and public policy department at Carnegie Mellon University and an Obama campaign contributor, said the panel should have included more technical expertise and “folks who aren’t sort of already staked out” on oil issues.

Jerry Taylor of the libertarian Cato Institute described the investigation as “an exercise in political theater where the findings are preordained by the people put on the commission.”

When the White House announced the commission, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and others made compared it with the one that investigated the 1986 Challenger accident. This one, however, doesn’t have as many technical experts.

The 13-member board that looked into the first shuttle accident had seven engineering and aviation experts and three other scientists. The 2003 board that looked into the Columbia shuttle disaster also had more than half of the panel with expertise in engineering and aviation.

Iraj Ersahaghi, who heads the petroleum engineering program the University of Southern California, reviewed the names of oil spill commissioners and asked, “What do they know about petroleum?”

Ersahaghi said the panel needed to include someone like Bob Bea, a prominent petroleum engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who’s an expert in offshore drilling and the management causes of manmade disasters.

Bea, who’s conducting his own investigation into the spill, told The Associated Press that his 66-member expert group will serve as a consultant to the commission, at the request of the panel’s co-chairman, William K. Reilly, Environmental Protection Agency chief under President George H.W. Bush.

Adm. Hal Gehman, who oversaw the Columbia accident panel, said his advice to future commissions is to include subject matter experts. His own expertise was management and policy but said his engineering-oriented colleagues were critical to sorting through official testimony.

“Don’t believe the first story; it’s always more complicated than they (the people testifying) would like you to believe,” Gehman said. “Complex accidents have complex causes.”

The oil spill commission will not be at a loss for technical help, White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said.

For one, he said the panel will draw on a technical analysis that the National Association of Engineering is performing. Also, members will “consult the best minds and subject matter experts in the Gulf, in the private sector, in think tanks and in the federal government as they conduct their research.”

That makes sense, said John Marburger, who was science adviser to President George W. Bush.

“It’s not really a technical commission,” Marburger said. “It’s a commission that’s more oriented to understanding the regulatory and organizational framework, which clearly has a major bearing on the incident.”

___

Online:

Executive order creating the commission: http://tinyurl.com/spillpanel

White House announcement on commissioners: http://tinyurl.com/25g39t4

Frances Beinecke’s blog archive: http://tinyurl.com/3p86vx

BP Bailout: Heresy In Louisiana

BP Bailout: Heresy In Louisiana

by Capitol Confidential

The Louisiana oil crisis continues unabated. Oil continues to pollute the Gulf and the Obama Administration continues to fiddle while Louisiana suffers.

In addition to being angry with BP and the Obama Administration’s weak response, activists have taken to the street to protest Louisiana’s Senators’ support for a BP bailout. Apparently both Louisiana Senators decided to cater to the special interests and voted for the Durbin Amendment to the Financial Reform bill that would increase the profits of companies like BP by shifting the cost of credit transactions away from them and forcing consumers to pay for them instead.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R622FPS2ZOo&feature=player_embedded

Both parties are responsible for the passage of the Durbin Amendment to bailout BP and other big retailers.

But Louisiana voters are more sensitive than most to the impact of the vote. The House and Senate Conference is now formally meeting on the Financial Reform bill and activists from Louisiana are right to demand this egregious giveaway be removed from the bill.