Aug 21, 2010 4:10 PM by Chris Welty
WASHINGTON (AP) - A six-month ban on deepwater drilling in the
Gulf of Mexico would directly put more than 9,000 people out of
work and indirectly affect another 14,000 jobs, according to a memo
from the nation's top drilling regulator.
The federal document, which weighed the economic impact and
alternatives to the ban, was sent to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
on July 10 by Michael Bromwich.
Salazar issued a moratorium in June, but it was struck down by a
federal judge in New Orleans after oil and gas drilling interests
said it wasn't justified following the Gulf oil spill.
The Obama administration issued a new moratorium July 12 - two
days after the memo - that stressed new evidence of safety
concerns. The White House hopes the revised ban will pass muster
with the courts.
The moratoriums were put in place following the Deepwater
Horizon rig explosion April 20 that killed 11 people. Millions of
gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf after the rig sank.
Some energy experts, engineering consultants and Gulf Coast
leaders have joined Big Oil to ask Salazar to change his mind.
Drilling was safe before the BP spill, they said, and Gulf
communities that depend on the industry were suffering unfairly.
Interior Department spokesman Matt Lee-Ashley said the agency
has been very clear that the economic impacts of the moratorium
would need to be addressed and noted the Obama administrationcusecured an agreement with BP to set up a $100 million fund for
affected rig workers.
"In light of the current risks of deepwater drilling as
illustrated by the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill and the potential
impacts of another spill, the moratorium is necessary and
appropriate. With that said, the worst-case economic impact
estimates from three months ago have not been realized. The reality
on the ground suggests that the impacts are less than we initially
projected as a potential worst-case scenario," Lee-Ashley said.