Today, a federal district court judge with financial investments in the oil industry ruled against the Obama administration’s 6-month moratorium on deepwater offshore drilling, which the President issued in the wake BP’s Gulf oil spill to ensure that future drilling is safe and environmentally sound. The White House has said it will appeal the decision.
Last week, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) decided to take the legislative route, introducing a bill in the House to lift the moratorium, saying it “is turning a tragedy into a nightmare.” He called it a “job-killing policy” because it will cause, he said, “other oil rich nations to move their rig operations overseas.” But last night on Fox News, when host Greta Van Susteren asked Olson if he could guarantee that the rigs effected by the moratorium have been “inspected” and are “safe,” Olson dodged, citing the “history of drilling” and the economy:
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any way of knowing that, for instance, the blow-out preventers work on these other 33 rigs, any way to guarantee that they have been, you know, inspected, that they’ve got all the sort of redundancy that’s necessary to make — to make sure they’re safe?
OLSON: Yes, ma’am. I would tell people look at the history of drilling in the gulf. We’ve been drilling there for over 50 years, 20 years in the deep water, and this is the first major accident we’ve had. [...]
VAN SUSTEREN: I think — it’s not history I’m looking for, it’s more assurances. [...]
OLSON: Yes, ma’am. And the administration, our government, clearly had no plan to do this. But again, this moratorium extends — again, it turns an economic challenge into an economic disaster.
But offshore oil drilling isn’t exactly 100 percent “safe,” nor will it ever be. And Olson is wrong about drilling “history.” Failures of blowout preventers and actual blowouts are fairly common. The largest oil spill in history (before BP’s) also occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, on an exploratory rig blowout.
It’s unclear why Olson ignores or seems to be unaware of these facts. Perhaps it could be because the Texas Republican’s biggest contributor is the oil and gas industry. In the two years he has been in Congress, Olson has collected $216,000 from oil and gas companies and in the current election cycle, polluter companies have given the most to Olson, nearly doubling the next highest industry contributor.