Judge who lifted drilling ban a hero in Louisiana

Miami Herald:

Along the troubled waters of the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman has become a bit of a folk hero.

He's the Ronald Reagan appointee who overturned the Obama administration's six-month ban on deepwater oil exploration, siding with oil service companies and the state of Louisiana, which argued that the moratorium -- coming on the heels of the gusher in the Gulf -- would seriously weaken the state's economy.

``The court is persuaded that it is only a matter of time before more business and jobs and livelihoods will be lost,'' Feldman wrote. ``An invalid agency decision . . . simply cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the [companies], the local economy, the Gulf region..''

Jeanette Tanguis, 45, the wife of an oil rigger, couldn't agree more.''

``This moratorium is an attack on our livelihood,'' said Tanguis, so worried about the future that she can't sleep at night, anxious that the next paycheck will be her husband Ken's, last. She brought her fears, their teenage son and a sign, ``Stop the Moratorium,'' to a rally last week headlined by Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose administration has set up a ``Gulf Economic Survival Team'' to lobby against the moratorium.

``People are talking about us only as `economic impacts,' '' Tanguis said. ``I'm tired of being called an economic impact. We are families. We need the work.''

The oil industry employs some 32,000 people in Louisiana's coastal parishes and pumps an estimated $3 billion into the state economy. In cities like Houma in Terrebonne Parish, more than 60 percent of the jobs are oil-related.


Louisiana State University's Center for Energy Studies -- which Jindal cited in his court filing -- estimates a six-month stop could cost the state more than 10,000 jobs, from idled oil rig workers to no-longer needed crews that clean the vessels and feed the workers.

Workers like Robert Bushnell, a 50-year-old security supervisor who counts on the industry for a living. ``Fewer clients mean fewer jobs and we could go out of business,'' Bushnell said. ``It's simple.''

Environmentalists argue the speculation over the loss of jobs is outweighed by the risks of another catastrophe in the Gulf.


There is more.

The environmentalists are operating on the invalid assumption that each deep water well is a catastrophe just waiting to happen. The fact is that the blowout in the Gulf is a rare exception to a good safety record by companies who invest millions of dollars in these wells. They would not make that kind of investment if their was a high risk of a blowout costing billions. The judge got it right on lifting the moratorium and the appeals court should quickly affirm the decision so that the companies can put people back to work on these rigs before it is too late.


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