Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Obama Issues First Deepwater Drilling Permit Since Gulf Spill

Four and a half months after "ending" the unnecessary and arbitrary moratorium on deep water drilling for oil and gas, the Obama administration has finally issued its first permit according to a breaking news alert from Lisa Desjardins of CNN. Platts reports that the permit was issued to Noble Energy.

The White House technically lifted its moratorium on deep water drilling on October 12, 2010, but has deliberately refused to issue any deep water drilling permits since then. The resulting "permitorium" added to the unnecessary economic hardship that the administration placed on the energy industry, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, where states like Louisiana rely heavily on oil and gas production as the lifeblood of their economy. The permitorium caused at least one drilling company, Seahawk Drilling, to file for bankruptcy.

The permit approval comes a week after a federal court found the Obama administration's approach to offshore drilling "unreasonable, unacceptable, and unjustified" and gave the administration 30 days to act on pending permits. The judge also found the administration in contempt of court for acting with "determined disregard" of previous judgments finding the Obama moratorium to be afoul of the law.

Calling the approval a "significant milestone," Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE), was hopeful that additional permits would be approved: "We expect further deepwater permits to be approved in coming weeks and months based on the same process that led to the approval of this permit."

The approved permit is a welcome deviation from President Obama's politically-motivated moratorium on deep water drilling and his long track record on blocking American energy production, but it remains to be seen whether this approval is a token gesture motivated by political calculus or a genuine shift in policy that will allow for more American energy production, more economic growth, and more job creation.

By American Solutions

No comments: