Photo via Freedom Blogging
Say what? As millions of gallons of oil spew out of the Gulf, and much of it threatening to make landfall on his state, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has called for ... more offshore drilling. Citing "concerns for the economic impact" of discontinuing drilling, he wrote a letter to Obama asking the president to lift the newly imposed moratorium. Yes, you read that correctly: the man in charge of Louisiana, the state likely to be most devastated by a massive oil spill caused by offshore drilling, wants to go ahead an expand offshore drilling.The Huffington Post reports:
Arguing that his state had already suffered crippling economic consequences, the Louisiana Republican urged Obama to rethink his decision to suspend activity at 33 previously permitted deepwater drilling rigs -- including 22 "currently in operation off the Louisiana coast." Joining Jindal in his call to lift the moratorium is Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) who accused the Obama administration of pursuing a policy that "could kill thousands of Louisiana jobs.This is pretty brazen, both politically and practically -- when I was reporting from the Gulf a couple weeks ago, there was plenty of outrage and fear at BP and offshore drilling (though there was plenty of staunch support for it too). This letter is essentially sending the message to his constituents that he doesn't grasp the full extent of the disaster's impact -- or else he wouldn't be callously expanding the risk of it happening again.
His motivation is certainly to keep Louisiana's economy humming, but this seems to me to be a supremely ill-advised way to do so. Sam Stein reports further on the peculiarity of this move, and how authorizing drilling would let BP begin 4 more operations!
For starters, an investigation into what went wrong with the current spill has yet to conclude -- meaning that the same technical problems could still pop up at other sites. Moreover, Jindal has been quite public and aggressive with his insistence that BP has been less than capable in managing the fallout of the spill it has caused. He made explicit calls for the "federal government to force BP to act responsible" and for the oil company to "either begin the work or get out of the way."It's hard to say what exactly is going on here, but letting BP open new drilling operations on your authority would seem to be politically detrimental (understatement city). It's pretty stunning that instead of protecting his state by holding the company who caused the crisis accountable, and seeking to understand the extent of the risks of offshore drilling, Jindal is brazenly calling for more.
But the oil company that Jindal (and others) are now demonizing would be overseeing a good chunk of the deepwater drilling that he wants put back online. Of the 33 permitted deepwater drilling rigs that Jindal wants to continue operating, two are under BP leases and two are operating under leases controlled jointly by BP and Devon