100 days later, spill is still disastrous

It’s official; we’ve reached the 100-day mark.

After President Barack Obama hit that milestone, national media heralded his platform. In that short span, we were told repeatedly, the president had halted the certain demise of the auto industry, come to the aid of the banking industry and had set his sights on creating jobs for America’s growing number of unemployed citizens.

It’s been 100 days since the calamitous explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oilrig, which claimed 11 lives and created the nation’s worst environmental disaster. In that time, our abundant seafood industry has been brought to the brink, putting thousands of fishermen, boat captains and restaurant workers among the jobless. The very industry that feeds our state – literally – and economy has been virtually halted because BP oil has polluted our waterways.

In that same timeframe, the Obama administration has implemented two moratoriums on deepwater drilling.

Granted, Federal District Judge Martin Feldmen upheld an earlier ruling declaring the first moratorium invalid. In his 22-page opinion, Feldman slammed Obama and Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar’s six-month ban on deepwater offshore drilling in waters 500 feet or more, saying the government relied on “incomprehensible” studies and making “factually incorrect” arguments that abused “reason (and) common sense.”

Harsh words, indeed. But not to worry, Salazar countered shortly after the ruling. A second moratorium soon followed; this one banning all offshore deepwater drilling. The new moratorium is in effect through November.

But as a number of Louisiana workers and state officials reasoned at last week’s Rally of Economic Survival in Lafayette’s Cajundome, November could cost this state its oil and gas industry.

More than 100,000 people – fishermen, waitresses, oilfield workers, attorneys, teachers, bankers, accountants, chambers of commerce, parents, taxpayers, citizens all – joined their voices in hopes that Obama and Washington, D.C., are listening.

According to Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle, one out of four people depend on the oil industry for their livelihoods. All of us are genuinely worried about the impact the moratorium will have on our financial security.

Certainly, we all want to be assured that offshore workers are safe. We agree the cause of the BP disaster must be identified and guidelines implemented to prevent future incidents.

As Gov. Bobby Jindal aptly put it, “Every single person out there wants drilling to be done safely. Louisiana … should not have to choose between our coast and safe energy protection.

“We don’t want another drop of oil in the Gulf,” he added. “What we’re saying to the federal government is, ‘Do your job so thousands of Louisianans don’t lose our jobs.”

A six-month moratorium on oil drilling all but ensures the oil-and-gas industry will be pushed to the edge. Not because of the greed experienced in the banking fallout or the demise of quality blamed for lagging auto sales, but because the leader of the free country – worried about rules applied to 33 oilrigs off Louisiana’s shores – is enforcing an industry-wide ban.

“I don’t know of any business that could survive a six-month suspension of operations,” Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph told rally-goers.

“Mr. President, you’re playing politics with our livelihoods,” she continued. “Yes, You Can, Lift the Ban!”

It’s a message state leaders are asking locals to continue to send to the Capitol. To be heard, visit http://www.crt.state.la. us/gest/petition.aspx and sign the petition. Together, we can make a difference.