Last month, the Interior Department instituted a six-month moratorium for wells deeper than 500 ft, directing them to “cease drilling any new deepwater wells, including wellbore sidekick and bypass activities.” “With the BP oil spill still growing in the gulf, and investigations and reviews still under way, a six-month pause in drilling is needed, appropriate, and prudent,” said Salazar.
But the “pause” in drilling is leading to some imprudent rhetoric from supporters of more oil drilling. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) sent a letter to the Obama administration on Monday claiming that the moratorium would cause more “economic devastation than the oil spill itself.” On PBS last night, Sen. John Barrasso called it “a second assault on the Gulf”:
LEHRER: Senator Barrasso, do you believe that the bulk of the responsibility and the lack of action, as you say, should go to B.P., or do you think it’s now the federal government’s responsibility?
BARRASSO: Well, today, in the Energy Committee hearing, the — — Secretary Salazar, the secretary of interior, said we have been on top of this and making the decisions from the beginning.
But I think, when the American people take a look at this, in day 51, and they see the oil continuing to spew out, they’re saying, is everyone helpless? What — what are the best ideas?
And — and I had additional questions for the secretary today about the moratorium, because I think that’s going to be a second assault on the Gulf, with — even by the department’s own recognition, that it’s over 100,000 jobs that can be lost if they don’t go back and continue to provide the energy for the people of the United States.
LEHRER: So, you’re — you — you are opposed to the moratorium?
BARRASSO: I am opposed to the moratorium.
In the same segment, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) defended the moratorium, saying that “we sure better know what went wrong before we continue to do this, because we sure don’t want to have another one of these things go off and fill the Gulf up all the more.” Barrasso wasn’t convinced, again calling it an “assault on the economy.” Watch it: