05.02.2011 0

Lifting Obama’s Oil Embargo

By Bill Wilson – This week, House Republicans will be making moves to ramp up U.S. oil production, specifically by voting to lift Barack Obama’s de facto moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.  HR 1229 and 1230, being presented by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings.

According to the Committee, “Despite officially lifting the moratorium in October 2010, the Obama Administration continues to slow-walk the permitting process — imposing a de facto moratorium.” HR 1229 would require Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar to act on oil permitting applications within 30 days.

The legislation is attempting to restore production of oil in the Gulf that is being severely hampered by the Administration.

In fact, according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA), Gulf oil production will decrease over the next two years by 380,000 barrels a day from its 2010 level of 1.64 million to 1.26 million.  That’s a 23 percent drop.  Although partially offset by increases in on-land oil production, the decrease in Gulf drilling will result in a net decrease of U.S. oil production by 150,000 barrels a day over the next two years.

Which is what Obama wants.  Even after District Court Judge Martin Feldman enjoined the enforcement of the original moratorium as arbitrary and capricious, Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar simply resubmitted almost the same exact moratorium with a few minor changes.

Making matters worse, despite the fact that the 2010 oil spill has pretty much been dispersed and cleaned, and the official moratorium “lifted,” Obama has not saw fit to get Gulf drilling back up to its 2010 capacity as he sits on new permits.

House Republicans are warning that the de facto moratorium is costing Americans their jobs as well, citing a study by Dr. Joseph Mason from Louisiana State University predicting “that if the de facto ban on deepwater drilling were sustained for 18 months, there could be a loss of 36,137 jobs nationwide, with 24,532 jobs lost in the Gulf Coast region alone.”

Dubbed the “American Energy Initiative,” Republicans are promising that their legislation will “create American jobs, lower gasoline prices and reduce our dependency on unstable foreign energy.”

Which, with gasoline marching at lightning speed to $4 a gallon, and soon perhaps to $5, the American people sorely need some reassurance that their leaders are enacting policies that can at least ease some of the pressure on prices.  Some action to strengthen the weak dollar as well, the primary cause of the current price spikes, is certainly warranted as well.

And with unemployment persistently high, there should be a preference for removing government hurdles to job creation, and cease policies that are actively killing jobs.

How long will Obama hold out? That’s anyone’s guess.  But House Republicans deserve credit for calling him out on his de facto moratorium.  We need to get the Gulf back to work.

Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Bill on Twitter at @BillWilsonALG.

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