Senate Hearing Revives Calls for End to Drilling Moratorium

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Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Two powerful interest groups used a Senate Small Business Committee hearing today to call for an end to the Obama administration’s moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama administration officials have said they anticipate ending the drilling ban before the six-month time frame set out when the moratorium was imposed. Michael Bromwich, who heads the newly formed Bureau of Energy Management, is currently reviewing offshore drilling in an attempt to determine when and how drilling can continue.

In a report released today, the Department of Commerce said the moratorium had not resulted in as many job losses as many had expected.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in testimony filed to the committee, called for lifting the ban. Karen Harbert, head of the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy said:

While the Gulf spill is a catastrophe, the administration’s reaction with a blanket moratorium is not supported by facts. We are urging the administration to provide regulatory clarification for future development of America’s resources and urgently lift the Gulf moratorium.  Federal inspectors have declared the rigs safe, industry has agreed to comply with new safety regulations, and yet the moratorium remains in place.  Gulf businesses are hurting and rigs are leaving the Gulf of Mexico, affecting America’s long-term energy and economic security.

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the oil and natural gas industry echoed the Chamber’s call to lift the ban. API President Jack Gerard said:

We, therefore, welcome calls from Senators on both sides of the aisle to lift the continuing moratorium on deepwater operations in the Gulf of Mexico.  The moratorium jeopardizes the jobs of tens of thousands of workers and could substantially reduce our domestic energy production.

Follow Andrew Restuccia on Twitter


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