Oil Companies stop at nothing, Judge Overturns Drilling Moratorium

gulfshipsOn May 27th, with oil still gushing into the Gulf from the tragic BP disaster, President Obama finally flexed his executive authority to put a temporary halt on risky offshore drilling.  The President not only extended a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling in the Gulf and the Arctic, but also canceled the sale of offshore leases and halted activities of 22 rigs currently drilling in the Gulf.  His announcement came after  continuous scrutiny from fellow-Democrats and other Obama supporters for his administration’s mismanagement of the BP disaster.

Today, a federal judge in New Orleans overturned the President’s moratorium citing economic hardships to workers and businesses. In U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman’s opinion, “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.” Almost immediately after the judge’s announcement, the White House said that they would appeal.

Press Secretary Gibbs stated that President Obama “strongly believes that continuing to drill at those depths without knowing what’s happened” in the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers and left an oil well gushing out of control, “makes no sense” and puts people’s lives at risk.

I agree 100% with the Administration. The judge’s decision is absurd and dangerous. The oil companies can not stop the leak, the assets of the United States are straining to stop the unfolding ecological damage and we still do not know the underlying cause of the events that have now become the worse drilling disaster in United States history.

In a long and well-researched story in the New York Times on June 21, reporters reviewed the amazing recent history of oil companies and their affiliates resisting efforts to strengthen safety standards in the key “fail safe” component  of the “blow out preventer” (BOP).  The “blind shear ram” is the critical “fail safe” BOP component that, in the event of an emergency, allows the rig operators to “cut” the pipe and block the flow of high pressure oil and gas coming up from the well. It failed in the Deepwater Horizon disaster and as the article spells out, it was well-documented that there are real concerns with this “fail safe” device going back more than 10 years.

This is exactly why we need a moratorium. “Fail safe” failed.

Governor Jindal of Louisiana and many companies associated with the oil industry have been criticizing the President’s plans for a moratorium for a month stating that it would devastate local economies.  In fact, Gov. Jindal wrote President Obama a letter arguing that “the last thing we need is to enact public policies that will certainly destroy thousands of existing jobs while preventing the creation of thousands more.” Senator David Vitter (R-La.) and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) have also entered the ring, criticizing the moratorium.

“Our state and our way of life continue to be under attack from the devastating oil spill, and now to make matters worse, President Obama’s has imposed a moratorium and shut down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Unless we lift Obama’s moratorium, it could kill thousands of Louisiana jobs.” – Sen. Vitter

No Senator, the whole Gulf of Mexico is under attack from the devastating oil spill. The spill was cause by a culture of corruption between the regulator, the Mineral Management Service (MMS), and an industry that put profits over safety. Yes, some jobs are going to be impacted by the need to understand what happened and how to make sure it never happens again, but destroying the Gulf of Mexico is not a job we can afford. The same arrogance that lead to this disaster – by cutting corners on safety and blocking systems that could lower the chances of such a catastrophic event – has now resulted in the temporary success today in a Louisiana court. The larger take home message is that those associated with high risk oil drilling are will to stop at nothing to feed their addiction to money while feeding our addiction to oil.

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Are you retarded? Do you comprehend how much drilling and production has been going on 24 hours a day 7 days a week in the GOM since the 1960s? You act as if the whole oilfield is “dangerous” and “risky” because of 1 catastrophe in 50+ years of an industry operating around the clock? Do you drive an electric car? Live in a solar powered house? Didn’t think so. This country is dependent on oil and as nice as it would be to stand on your soap box and call for a cleaner fuel source; it isn’t going to be feasible any time soon.

I also love how you would put the important of the Gulf of Mexico over hundreds of thousands of people and their families that depend on the oil field and subsidiaries of it. In fact, I would say Senator Vitter was spot on. The Gulf will rebound in time and it will be like this never happened. Can you guarantee the same about the workers’ and their families that could be devastated by the drilling ban and subsequent events following it?

Sorry Dr., but just like the President your idealistic solution is light years away from reasonable and well thought.


Comment by Houseboat on June 22, 2010 7:18 pm

By the way I love the picture of the kid with the toxic sign, very clever. Nobody will recognize that as propaganda!

Comment by Houseboat on June 22, 2010 7:21 pm

Actually Mr. “Houseboat” I do live in a solar house (http://blog.cleanenergy.org/2009/10/01/smith-solar-home-tour/) and drive a Hybrid electric car.
The solutions to end offshore drilling are within reach.
The point you miss is that more recent deep water drilling is significantly more risky than shallow water drilling. We believe deep water should be banned and shallow water drilling phased out over time. If you spend some time learning about how we can end high risk drilling and you would see that we don’t have to put whole region at risk for a small number of people who benefit economically while endangering the Gulf for the rest of us and all the species that live there.

Comment by Dr. Stephen A. Smith on June 22, 2010 11:57 pm

An important update to this blog: The Judge Who Struck Down Moratorium Has Owned Transocean Stock! Read More about this: http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/06/judge-moratorium-case-stock-transocean

Comment by Toni Reale on June 23, 2010 3:05 pm

I completely concur with Stephen. Jobs come and go. Money and our economy will be irrelevant when we have destroyed our Earth. That is something that is relevant and is happening every day before everyone’s eyes. It’s sad that money comes before childrens futures these days. No Earth, no future.

Comment by Chella on June 23, 2010 4:03 pm

The New Orleans Judge had an opportunity to do the right thing – at least delay his denial of Obama’s request for lifting the ban until an appeals court could review. Today, he DENIES Obama’s request for him to wait!

Here’s this developing story: http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/06/24/gulf.oil.disaster/?hpt=T1

This is the same judge who has stock in Transocean: http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/06/judge-moratorium-case-stock-transocean

This is outrageous!

Comment by Toni Reale on June 24, 2010 12:56 pm

The economic destruction from this oil spill could be the tipping point that begins a disasterous economic decline. If the grass beds are coated with oil, and the entire foodchain begins to disappear in the Gulf then the fishing industry will be gone. Then you’ve got the tourism industry, which supports Florida’s economy. You’ll have issues with oil causing health issues when it is spread all over the place when the next huge hurricane hits.

We’re already screwed. Thank you houseboat for not being proactive. We are all the reason for this disaster, but the people like you that don’t learn and evolve will ultimately be wiped out: and you’re going to try and bring everyone down with you.

Comment by SystemSustainable on June 24, 2010 2:53 pm

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