The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The Administration's Harmful 'Overreaction'

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted August 13, 2010

In a Houston Chronicle Op-Ed this week, former Interior Secretary Gale Norton spoke out against the deepwater drilling moratorium and other forces that could impede or altogether halt offshore drilling. Secretary Norton calls the moratorium an "overreaction" saying:

"Failure to consider the full effect of proposed laws and moratoria, as well as the operation of existing laws, could jeopardize thousands of jobs and further damage the Gulf Coast economy."

The moratorium's impact is being felt throughout the Gulf region. According to research firm Dun & Bradstreet, the moratorium could affect 16,580 businesses that account for tens of thousands of U.S. jobs in five Gulf states.

Secretary Norton writes that two Gulf rigs have packed up and moved to foreign waters, taking jobs and government revenue with them. And while the misguided moratorium has brought U.S. offshore drilling to a near standstill, foreign countries are racing to develop new sources of oil and natural gas.

In her Op-Ed, Secretary Norton also calls for a balanced approach to protecting the environment and allowing the Gulf Coast economy to prosper. She references the industry's safety record:

"Since 1980, the largest spill from a blowout in federal waters besides the Deepwater Horizon was only 800 barrels. For every barrel produced, only .000001 was spilled. It is certainly possible to produce oil offshore with reliability and safety."

There is no evidence to suggest that the moratorium is making U.S. offshore energy development safer. And the Gulf oil spill is not a valid reason to put thousands of people out of work and increase the nation's reliance on foreign sources of energy.

For more information, read the full Op-Ed authored by Secretary Norton here.