As these columns reported last week, the opposite is true. In a scathing document, eight of the "experts" the Administration listed in its report said their names had been "used" to "justify" a "political decision." The draft they reviewed had not included a six-month drilling moratorium. The Administration added that provision only after it had secured sign-off
. In their document, the eight forcefully rejected a moratorium, which they argued could prove more economically devastating than the oil spill itself and "counterproductive" to "safety."
And the report they agreed to did address moratoria: It recommended a six-month ban on new deepwater permits. Yet Benton Baugh, president of Radoil, said that in at least two separate hour-and-a-half phone calls among Interior and the experts, there was no discussion of a moratorium on existing drilling. "Because if anybody had [made that suggestion], we'd have said 'that's craziness.'"
A cynic might argue the ban was only added after review precisely because the Administration knew experts would refuse to endorse it.
A big reason why those experts would have balked is because they recognize that the moratorium is indeed a threat to safety. Mr. Arnold offers at least four reasons why.
The ban requires oil companies to abandon uncompleted wells. The process of discontinuing a well, and then later re-entering it, introduces unnecessary risk. He notes BP was in the process of abandoning its well when the blowout happened.
The ban is going to push drilling rigs to take jobs in other countries. "The ones that go first will be the newest, biggest, safest rigs, because they are most in demand. The ones that go last and come back first are the ones that aren't as modern," says Mr. Arnold.
The indeterminate nature of this ban will encourage experienced crew members to seek other lines of work—perhaps permanently. Restarting after a ban will bring with it a "greater mix of new people who will need to be trained." The BP event is already pointing, in part, to human error, and the risk of that will increase with a less experienced crew base. Finally, a ban will result in more oil being imported on tankers, which are "more likely" to spill oil than local production.
All this is even before raising ban's economic consequences, which already threaten tens of thousands of jobs. This is why Louisiana politicians are now pleading with the Administration to back off a ban that is sending the Gulf's biggest industry to its grave.
"Mr. President, you were looking for someone's butt to kick," said Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph, recently. "You're kicking ours." The sooner the Administration climbs down from this pointless exercise, the better for a Gulf that needs real help.
Crude Politics - WSJ.com