This regime has many aspects about it that rub people the wrong way. The cavalier attitude towards those affected by its misguided policy decisions might be the most acute. Late Thursday, the regime released its analysis (PDF) of the economic effects of the deepwater drilling moratorium. The report estimated that between 8,000 and 12,000 jobs would be impacted by the moratorium, and up to $1.8 billion in spending by the oil and gas exploration sector would be lost. The report categorizes the effects as “not large.” “Not significant.”
“Let them eat cake.”
In an editorial yesterday, the New Orleans Times Picayune takes the administration to task for its indifference:
Louisiana officials and industry observers disputed some of the premises in the government's analysis, and their observations have merit. But even if the administration's figures are correct, 12,000 jobs lost is a major hit for the economy of a recovering region – and the administration shouldn't be cavalier about that.
LSU economics professor Joseph Mason, who has studied the moratorium's impact, said the government's estimate of job losses doesn't differ much from his own. The distinction, he said, is in how federal officials are framing their conclusions. In particular, Mr. Mason noted that many Gulf Coast communities are small, meaning the loss of even a few hundred jobs can be devastating.
"The administration says 'only' 12,000 jobs will be lost," Mr. Mason said. "This is almost as if they are telling a region that has been hit by disaster – both natural and manmade – time and time again that we'll 'only' wipe out a handful of their communities."
He's right, and that goes against President Obama's promise that his administration would help our region recover from this disaster.
The problem is not just that government officials were, and apparently still are, oblivious to the economic pain caused by the deepwater moratorium. The administration has not even acknowledged the damage from what local officials have characterized as a de-facto moratorium on shallow-water drilling.
Federal officials have said there's no official ban on shallow-water drilling. But 15 of 46 shallow-water rigs active when the Deepwater Horizon exploded are now idle, and four other have left the country. In addition, the federal government has granted only four permits for new drilling operations in the past four months. That many shallow-water permits were granted on any given week before the moratorium.
Industry officials said the shallow-water slowdown also is costing jobs. Shallow-water operator Hercules Offshore, for example, said it's laid off a few hundred employees. Seahawk Drilling Inc. has idled four rigs and put 150 workers on unpaid leave.
The regime’s unwillingness (or apathy toward) admitting that its capricious policy of halting drilling in the gulf is having a significant economic impact, combined with the cavalier attitude towards the impacts that it does acknowledge, gives lie to the promise Obama made “heal the Gulf.” He either doesn’t care, or he doesn’t care to care.
It’s this attitude—along with a long list of other dilettantish traits—that irks and angers so many Americans, not the least of which are the people of the Gulf Coast. They are “only” losing 12,000 jobs and $1.8 billion in economic impacts from the moratorium.
“Let them eat cake.”