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Gulf Coast Republicans (and Charlie Melancon) want offshore drilling moratorium scrapped

Nearly two dozen members of the House GOP from the Gulf Coast region, joined by Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), called Tuesday for President Obama to reverse the post-BP disaster moratorium on offshore drilling in deep water. Notably absent -- although, according to members, not completely indicative of the support they have -- were Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.) and members from Florida. The members who were there characterized the moratorium as a "job killer" with no basis in science.

"Assume that this oil rig that's had the accident were a patient," said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), the ranking member of the Energy Committee. "You pick the patient up and take him in the emergency room. The emergency room doctor comes in and looks at the chart. You ever been in here before? Never been in here before. Your vital signs are pretty good? Vital signs look pretty good. What's the problem? Well, we've got some bleeding and we can't stop it. What's the prognosis? Well, we just kill the patient. That doesn't happen!"

"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."

"These rigs will relocate and they're not going to come back," said Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.). "This moratorium that the president put in place is a job killer. It will make the disaster even worse."

Republicans said that members from the Gulf Coast states would meet at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to talk over their plans -- several, including Boustany, are worried that President Obama would use the time before that to support continuing the moratorium.

"That's why it's important to listen to the voice of reason," said Boustany. "Let's base this on science and technology and not have some sort of kneejerk emotional response, or some response based on politics."

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Tex.) took that sentiment further, criticizing President Obama for looking for culprits in politics and the oil industry.

"The push to say this is the fault of the energy people, this is the fault of the last president -- I don't recollect our president on 9/11 going to New York and blaming it on Bill Clinton," said Hall, shaking his head. "He had more class than to do that."

By David Weigel  |  June 15, 2010; 3:27 PM ET
Categories:  Energy  
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