Jindal Throws Support Behind Lawsuit to End Drilling Ban

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, in support of Hornbeck Offshore's lawsuit to remove the U.S. government's deepwater drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Offshore oil and gas exploration and production are critical components of Louisiana's economy, which was already weakened by Katrina and is now crippled by the Deepwater Horizon disaster," Jindal said in the brief. "With each passing day, the MMS moratorium further threatens the economic livelihood of the State and its citizens. The state of Louisiana, therefore, has a real interest in the outcome of this litigation."

Jindal argued that the states are entitled to participate in the policy and decision-making process by the federal government on issues relating to the exploration and development of Outer Continental Shelf minerals and requires the Secretary of the Interior to cooperate with affected states.

"Inasmuch as the State of Louisiana was completely ignored by defendants in the establishment of this moratorium for alleged safety reasons, the question arises whether that failure renders the Defendants' action invalid," Jindal said in the brief.

Jindal said the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association estimates that the drilling moratorium would take 33 floating rigs out of commission for at least six months. Jindal also noted that the LSU Center for Energy Studies estimated that the moratorium's impact within five months would result in the direct layoff of 3,339 Louisiana workers and the loss of an additional 7,656 jobs indirectly in the state.

The Louisiana Department of Economic Development estimates that the state risks the loss of 20,000 existing and potential new jobs over the next year to 18 months, Jindal said.

Hornbeck Offshore will present its case today in New Orleans before U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman.