With the spill off the Gulf largely contained, the Administration has launched a commission to investigate the root cause of the tragedy. Now that the heated emotions surrounding the spill are beginning to subside, the presidential commission has an enormous opportunity to objectively access the failures that led up to the spill—and just as importantly—to chart a sustainable, cheap, and safe course for America’s energy production.
Given the Administration’s antagonistic track record with America’s oil and natural gas producers, many Republican Members looked at the commission with weary eyes.
Addressing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Senator Barrasso (R-Wyo) highlighted many of these concerns:
“The president said he wanted an objective look. Well the commission’s background and expertise doesn’t really include an oil or a drilling expert, so people in the Gulf, people across the country are wondering about the administration’s goals. Is it really about making offshore energy exploration safer, or is it shutting down our offshore and American oil and gas.”
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration’s actions, thus far, can only lead to Senator Barrasso’s conclusion: the commission is about shutting down offshore production, not making it safer.
After imposing a moratorium on deep water production—despite the impeccable track record of nearly every energy explorer, except BP—the administration went even further and imposed a de facto moratorium on shallower waters. By revoking or halting the permitting process for shallow water production (including exploration in Alaska’s waters), the Administration successfully impeded all offshore oil and natural gas production. But at what cost?
The moratorium only exacerbates the woes those in the Gulf face. The commission would be wise to alleviate the government-induced economic problems and allow for continued, safe production.