Revived Push for Drilling Ban

(Dow Jones Newswires), July 7, 2010

The Obama administration asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to reinstate a moratorium on deepwater petroleum drilling, saying it is needed to reduce the chance of a second spill similar to the one now spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico.

The fallout from that spill, the result of an April 20 explosion on a drilling rig leased by BP, was evident in the Gulf region Tuesday, as tar balls lapped onto the Texas coast and oil was sighted in New Orleans's Lake Pontchartrain.

The developments show how the spill continues to invade new areas along the Gulf, harming coastal marshes and endangering fish and wildlife.

In a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Justice Department officials said a six-month suspension of drilling in more than 500 feet of water is in the "long-term public interest of the nation," and is needed to give the Interior Department time to develop and implement new regulations to prevent another spill.

The filing was in response to a federal judge's decision in June to block the moratorium, saying the Interior Department had trivialized the economic impact of the temporary ban.

In the filing, the administration cited not only the "catastrophic impacts" of the accident on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig but also the risk of a second spill, "which industry has shown limited ability to contain."

"Interior had to take immediate action to minimize the risk of another spill, especially while efforts to contain and clean up this one are ongoing," the motion says. "The stakes are even higher now that it is hurricane season."

Attorneys for the government and Hornbeck Offshore -- an offshore oil-services provider that challenged the moratorium -- are scheduled to square off on Thursday before a panel of judges assigned to the Fifth Circuit.

In its filing Tuesday, the Justice Department said federal law requires Interior to conclude that there is "a threat of serious or irreparable harm to the marine or coastal or human environment," and not to balance the risk of such harm against the economic harm from the moratorium.

In Louisiana, many politicians have said the ban is crippling an economy already walloped by curtailed fishing and a loss of tourism.

A new effect of the spill was discovered late Monday with tar balls and oil sheen sighted in the Rigolets, one of the waterways connecting the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Pontchartrain, which borders the northern edge of New Orleans. Some oil also had made it to the lake, according to the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center in New Orleans.

After decades of neglect left it choked with pollution, the 630-square-mile lake was cleaned up in the 1990s and has since become a popular fishing and boating destination.

On Monday, crews tried to protect the lake by placing barges and protective piping called boom at a choke point in the Rigolets.

In Texas, the seven gallons of tar balls found over the weekend on beaches were confirmed as originating from the oil spill, but investigators were still not sure how they got to Texas, according to a Coast Guard spokesman. The tar balls were lightly weathered, and investigators speculated that the tar had come from the bottoms of boats bringing oil collected from the spill to Texas for processing.

Copyright (c) 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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Roger Payne | Jul. 11, 2010

Bill G | Jul. 10, 2010
Well as I said in earlier post, these Deepwater rigs are in demand worldwide and if they move out of the Gulf then it could take years before they return or replacements are Ocean Endeavour departs Gulf for Egypt.... The first of many to go... If I was an American from the States that relied on this Industry for a living, I would be marching in the street... Seems like your President needs to put his Bi-Focals on so he can see long-term as well as short-term impact.

David Cooper | Jul. 9, 2010
Our President and Department of Interior seem to be hesitant to admit that their proposed ban on deepwater drilling was a mistake. Despite the fact that a judge they appointed ruled the ban to be unwarranted and that the proper research had not been done before the filing, our government still insists on pursuing a course of action that was knee jerk panic to begin with. I am starting to believe they are purposely trying to totally ruin the economies of the Gulf Coast states. What did we ever do to them?

Charlotte Kelly | Jul. 9, 2010
I wish our President, Justice Department and Environmentalists would stop gagging at a gnat and swallowing a camel. The continued ban on drilling is going to cost families, businesses, and entire industry unquestionable grief.

Sam | Jul. 9, 2010
re: July 7 comment - Do you think one reason Obama gave $2 billion to PetroBras & Brazil has anything to do with George Soros (the man who helped put Obama in office) owning a significant amount of Petrobras Stock? The reaction of the moratorium is out of proportion to the events true impact on the region. The administrations response is causing a bigger true impact than the spill.

Anonymous | Jul. 9, 2010
I think BP screwed up by not having a plan for a situation like this. Everything they have tried works in shallow waters. It's not if you will have another spill, its when things are going to happen. I don't feel the government should get involved and tell these large companies how to do their job. These companies need to get together and figure out a solution on how to help prevent something like this from happening again and if it happens again they need to have a plan in place that works to stop the leak. I don't think we should have ever drilled deep without that plan in place first. About the other rigs just sitting out there, President Obama is all about saving and creating new jobs. A lot of people are losing their jobs because of this. They are all being punished because of BP's actions. They need to lift that ban so people can go back to work both offshore and in the communities in Louisiana.

Dan | Jul. 8, 2010
Overturning the moratorium does not change anything. This is analogous to the guns and bullets scenario. They can't take away our guns, but they can restrict manufacturing of bullets and thereby rendering guns useless. In this case, they can leave the moratorium overturned, but still reject permits to drill and thereby leaving rigs useless even though the moratorium is overturned.

Bryan | Jul. 8, 2010
It amazes me every time I read a response from environmentalists about how we need to curb the need to drill for oil. It's like they don't know what products they use day to day are derived from petroleum. Its not JUST gasoline or diesel that comes from oil. There are over 6000 items that we use DAILY that come from petroleum. Here are just a few: Ink Floor Wax Ballpoint Pens Football Cleats Upholstery Sweaters Boats Insecticides Bicycle Tires Sports Car Bodies Nail Polish Fishing lures Dresses Tires Golf Bags Perfumes Cassettes Dishwasher parts Tool Boxes Shoe Polish Motorcycle Helmet Caulking Petroleum Jelly Transparent Tape CD Player Faucet Washers Antiseptics Clothesline Curtains Food Preservatives Basketballs Soap Vitamin Capsules Antihistamines Purses Shoes Dashboards Cortisone Deodorant Footballs Putty Dyes Panty Hose Refrigerant Percolators Life Jackets Rubbing Alcohol Linings Skis TV Cabinets Shag Rugs Electricians Tape Tool Racks Car Battery Cases Epoxy Paint Mops Slacks Insect Repellent Oil Filters Umbrellas Yarn Fertilizers Hair Coloring Roofing Toilet Seats Fishing Rods Lipstick Denture Adhesive Linoleum Ice Cube Trays Synthetic Rubber Speakers Plastic Wood Electric Blankets Glycerin Tennis Rackets Rubber Cement Fishing Boots Dice Nylon Rope Candles Trash Bags House Paint Water Pipes Hand Lotion Roller Skates Surf Boards Shampoo Wheels Paint Rollers Shower Curtains Guitar Strings Luggage Aspirin Safety Glasses Antifreeze Football Helmets Awnings Eyeglasses Clothes Toothbrushes Ice Chests Footballs Combs CDs & DVDs Paint Brushes Detergents Vaporizers Balloons Sun Glasses Tents Heart Valves Crayons Parachutes Telephones Enamel Pillows Dishes Cameras Anesthetics Artificial Turf Artificial limbs Bandages Dentures Model Cars Folding Doors Hair Curlers Cold cream Movie film Soft Contact lenses Drinking Cups Fan Belts Car Enamel Shaving Cream Ammonia Refrigerators Golf Balls Toothpaste Personally, I'm not ready yet to give up my deodorant, toothpaste or shampoo yet.

Bryan | Jul. 8, 2010

thanks and very important information regards and compliment.

Anonymous | Jul. 8, 2010
The problem here is the US desperately need to use 25% of worlds oil - the solution is already there except for the vice-grip held in political circles by those in the oil industry. Seems like Obama wants to make a concerted move to other fuels but in reality the usual case will prevail where corporate and individual greed will drive those potential alternatives to the closet. Given global reserve problems it is easy to see why Bush went into Iraq where latest figures show potential oil volumes exceeding even that of Saudi. It is a new way of life that needs to be instilled in the US, not just changing to battery cars...

herman | Jul. 8, 2010
This administration had planned on destroying the economy from the beginning by banning drilling.I mean how can you face your fellow countrymen with jobs about to be lost and families about to be added to welfare lines,unemployment already at an all time how,then add more people to it.Yet you take our tax dollars an send to India for help in oilfield development;that sound like "COMMUNISM".

Stephen | Jul. 7, 2010
We have to work to pay our bills. It's our lives on the line, not yours. It's our time away from home with our kids and loved ones, we should have the say!

RWest | Jul. 7, 2010
I just got home from church and there was a fellow there that was at a business meeting in New Orleans today. He told me this evening that they concluded with the moratorium on the drilling that there would be a trickle down effect of job losses of somewhere around 180,000. This will just kill South Louisiana. This state cannot survive that and it will definitely hurt Texas to some extent.

JImbo | Jul. 7, 2010
If Obama put the moratorium back into effect, which no one in Washington has a clue about the inner workings of drilling, these politicians don't care if it puts 5000 men out of work.

Reggie Turnage | Jul. 7, 2010
The Administration is using this for political gain. They want to shut down all drilling. Look at the way he has handled the clean up. Most of the American public does not realize just how far the Oil dollars go, and they don't realize just what part oil plays in their daily lives, not just fuel. This ban is a rouse. I agree 100% with Audie the regulation were in place they were not followed.

| Jul. 7, 2010
We have one accident in the GOM and the govt wants to shut us down. What about the thousands of wells that have been in the GOM. I say our offshore drilling companies have done a damn good job!!! I say keep up the good work and tell the pres and his admin to keep their noses out of the drilling/oil business and let the folks who know let them do there job, also it will take time but mother nature will take care of it too!!! Remember those boys working that Iron "DONT PUT THEM OUT OF WORK"!!! And why is the pres sending $2 billion to Petrobras and Brazil for deepwater drilling and not us? He wants to shut us down now it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out??? Oilfield Trash Forever "The CATFISH"

James Flint | Jul. 7, 2010
I think the Federal Government needs to fix the BP oil spill and let the other oil companies go back to work, it's not only hurting the Louisiana and Texas employment, it's hurting everyone that is out of a job because of this.

Chuck | Jul. 7, 2010
Obama and his buddies will do anything to send those deep water rigs to Brazil. What needs to happen, shut the gas and lights off in D.C. for a month. No driving and no flying.

Glenn Avants | Jul. 7, 2010
At this point it is safe to say that the present administration is operating with the transparency that it promised while campaigning. It is very obvious to anyone with knowledge of oilfield practice and procedure that this administration is totally ignorant of what has happened and what to do about it. The moratorium is akin to a convenient store being robbed. After the crime is committed, instead of punishing the offender(s), they close down the store for six months to investigate why the store was robbed. Procedure was violated. The law was broken. We don't need more laws, we need accountability.

Bill G | Jul. 7, 2010
While the environmental impact of the spill in itself will cause economic hardship for peoples involved in industries related to harvesting from the sea and tourism etc.. it will be minuscule compared to the hardship that will be felt through communities that are directly or indirectly involved with Drilling Offshore... If these Deepwater Rigs are left exposed to Force Majuere from the clients they are presently contracted to then it is reasonable to expect that they will be looking to move off to another location ie Brazil or West Africa... As demand is quite high for these types of Rigs it would be reasonable to suppose that this may set back the US energy program quite considerably and money that could have been used for discovering and developing American Oil is instead used to buy Oil from other countries.... Every one of these Rigs directly or indirectly employs local people and industries... Every Rig that leaves the Gulf will be a cause of job losses and as these Rigs are in short supply may take a considerable length of time to return or replace.... To most of us this Moratorium is an unbelievable extreme case of over-reaction and losing sight of the big picture...

JD Castle | Jul. 7, 2010
Perspectives & Priorities / JD Castle There are risks and costs in all endeavors, yet as a society we allow some, and become hysterical over others. No doubt this recent event is catastrophic, yet with the continuing feeding by the news media, perspectives are distorted and skewed out of proportion. What is the foundation of our rationale compared to other continuing events. When airplanes crash killing over a hundred people, planes continue to fly that day, without a six month evaluational period. In addition, we continually allow automobiles to operate, killing over 50,000 men, women, and children each year on our highways, and somehow, that is acceptable, while spilling oil is clearly devastating and unacceptable.

Audie Hebert | Jul. 7, 2010
The department officials claim six months is needed for the Interior Department to develop and implement new regulations to prevent a spill. If BP would have followed the industry procedures in design and MMS had done their job by not approving BPs permit based on the current design, there would be no spill to talk about. Now the plan is to come up with more regulations when the regulations in place wasn't followed to start with. It seems compliance is the issue and not the regulations.


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