Gulf Coast lawmakers to Obama: Drill, baby, drill
By Mary Ann Akers
As the BP oil spill disaster waded into its eighth week with untold billions of dollars worth of ecological and economic damage and no end in sight, a group of Gulf Coast lawmakers on Capitol Hill made an urgent appeal for more offshore drilling.
"If an airplane crashes in the United States -- which would be horrible, people would die -- we don't close down all the airlines in the United States for six months," said Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.), referring to the Obama administration's temporary moratorium on deep-water drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico.
"We don't do that in any other disaster, but yet when it came to the issue of one rig causing problems and a disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the government has seen fit in its way to shut down for six months all of those rigs," added Poe.
The six-month drilling ban, they argued, is more costly than the damage from the spill itself.
"This drilling moratorium is the equivalent of killing the patient," Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) said.
One of two Democrats at the news conference, Rep. Charlie Melancon of Texas, argued that the drilling ban "would result in thousands of workers laid off and would cripple our state's economy. The last thing we need is a moratorium."
On Tuesday morning, some reporters questioned the authenticity of a listing posted on the House news alert system announcing: "House Republicans hold news conf to advocate for more offshore drilling." At first blush, it looked like something out of The Onion satire newspaper.
"It isn't a joke," Melancon said later, explaining that the drilling ban could cost tens of thousands of jobs -- maybe more (though he couldn't estimate exactly how many) -- in his state.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office released a "fact sheet" to reporters noting that Republicans were "incredibly" holding a news conference to "demand MORE offshore drilling when oil is still spilling into the Gulf and we don't yet know how to improve the safety of offshore drilling."
House Republican leaders have avoided specifically mentioning offshore drilling, instead calling for an "all of the above" energy strategy that includes what Minority Leader John Boehner's spokesman calls "more environmentally responsible American energy production, a bigger focus on nuclear, alternative, and renewable sources of energy, and more conservation, as well."
At the news conference, Gulf Coast lawmakers invoked both science and God as they defended their drilling position and called on President Obama to lift the moratorium.
"This is not an act of God," Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said of the oil rig explosion. "Statistically, tankers are three times more likely to cause a spill than a drill."
"This moratorium is based on unfounded science," said Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.). "It is not really based on any knowledge of technology and facts on the ground, and it's hugely detrimental, in every sense, to Louisiana's economy, the Gulf Coast's economy, and the economy of the United States."
Mary Ann Akers
June 15, 2010; 6:50 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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