According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama Administration has lifted its ban on deep-water drilling. Good news, right? Well, yes, but we’re still unsure about the timeline and when oil rigs will actually be able to resume. That’s because the Department of the Interior is requiring rig operators to comply with all post-spill safety regulations, and verify that they own equipment to contain a blowout, before application approvals are granted.
It’s a step in the right direction, but the Administration’s decision may have deeper implications than what’s apparent at first glance. Officials in the oil and natural gas industry have said these new regulations could “sharply escalate the costs of operating in U.S. waters.” And while the ban has been lifted over a month before the target date of November 30, there is a good chance rig operators will not return to work before then. Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, emphasized that “the pace of approvals will depend on the quality of companies’ applications and whether they adhere to the new safeguards.” Considering the speed at which our ever-growing federal government tends to operate, is this statement concerning to anyone else?
It also comes at a fairly convenient time for vulnerable Members of Congress along the Gulf Coast who continue to face an embattled economy and disgruntled constituents. Given our current economic climate, it’s inexcusable for our government to threaten jobs as well as the opportunity to generate an influx of revenue that could go toward paying off other liabilities and, you know, our $13 trillion debt. We all want rig operators to exercise safety precautions, and sincerely hope the underlying cause of the spill is corrected to avoid another tragedy, but stopping drilling altogether is not the answer.
Let’s give the Obama Administration the benefit of the doubt and (cautiously) commend them for lifting the deep-water drilling ban. At the same time, it’s imperative that we urge them to commit to expediting the permit review process. It’s the right thing to do…for jobs, for families, and for America’s entire economy.
For those of you who are interested, here is the safety report issued by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar back in May. It outlines many of the regulations for which oil rigs will now be responsible.