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Aug 18, 2010 8:55 AM by Sharlee Barriere

Lt. Gov.: Ban an Attempt to Change Energy Policy

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - President Barack Obama's continued
moratorium on deepwater petroleum drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is
an attempt to move the United States toward alternative energy at a
high economic cost to southern Louisiana, the state's lieutenant
governor says.
During a hearing Tuesday before the state's two U.S. senators,
Republican David Vitter and Democrat Mary Landrieu, Lt. Gov. Scott
Angelle criticized the ban as "a one-size-fits-all-approach" to
safety that is having a "cascading impact on the economy."
Angelle also said the administration wants to take advantage of
the Gulf oil spill to enact a major shift in national energy
policy.
"This is about an effort to move this country off of
hydrocarbons prematurely," Angelle said.
The hearing was officially a meeting of the U.S. Senate
Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. The only
committee members present were Landrieu and Vitter.
A similar hearing was held in Washington, D.C., last month, but
Landrieu, who chairs the committee, said she wanted to come to
Lafayette to hear from community leaders in one of the areas most
affected by the drilling moratorium.
Landrieu said the administration's blanket ban on deepwater
drilling "borders on reckless."
Vitter said the ban only worsens the effect of the disaster
itself.
"The economic threat continues more than ever because of this
moratorium," he said.
Although unemployment figures indicate that the worst
predictions from the ban - thousands of lost jobs - have yet to
happen, witnesses told the committee that the ban has hurt
restaurants, retail shops and grocery stores that are sustained by
the paychecks of petroleum workers.
Charlie Goodson, owner of Charley G's restaurant in Lafayette,
said that he is preparing for a major slowdown at the high-end
eatery he has operated for 25 years. Goodson said his business
would try to limp through tough economic times with only a freeze
on salaries, hiring and improvements, but a sustained downturn
could force him to cut 11 jobs through the discontinuation of lunch
service.
"The moratorium casts big doubts over the future of our small
business," he said.
The uncertainty also has cut deeply into the area's real estate
market, said Dewitt David, the commercial sales manager for Van
Eaton & Romero, one of the region's largest real estate firms.
"The perception is that the worst is yet to come, and few
clients are in a position to commit to long-term real estate deals
not knowing what the future of our economy will bring," David
said.
The ban is effective until Nov. 30, but the administration has
said it would consider lifting it earlier.

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