Republicans study offshore drilling, one year after lifting of deep-water ban


One year ago today, the Obama administration lifted the ban on most deep-water drilling that was temporarily imposed after the Gulf oil spill.

The House Natural Resources Committee is marking the occasion with a hearing focused on examining the lingering effects of that five-month moratorium.

Panel Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said the administration is dragging its feet in issuing permits to drill offshore, and those approvals haven’t yet met a pre-spill pace.

“The Obama administration’s inability or refusal to issue permits in a timely and efficient manner (even) after the official moratorium was lifted resulted in lost jobs and significant economic pain,” Hastings said, at the outset of the hearing. “Some permits indeed are being issued (but) there are facts and data that demonstrate recovery is moving at a pace that continues to hamper job creation and the economy.”

The government has issued permits for 81 new shallow water wells since new post-spill safety and environmental requirements were imposed in June 2010. Federal officials also have approved drilling of 41 new deep-water wells since February, when the industry first proved it had the equipment and know-how to contain runaway underwater wells — a post-spill requirement for some deep-water exploration.

The committee’s leading Democrat said Hastings’ concern is misplaced. Instead of holding a hearing focusing on a short-term deep-water drilling ban, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said the panel should be studying the long-term environmental effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and reports of oil sheens near BP’s failed Macondo well.

“Holding a hearing on the impact of a safety check following an unimaginable oil spill is a little like holding a hearing on wearing a cast after shattering your leg, without looking at the accident that required the cast,” Markey said.

Markey added that the Natural Resources Committee also was overlooking the economic damage to tourism throughout the Gulf Coast caused by the spill itself.

The witnesses testifying at today’s hearing read like a Who’s Who of the Gulf Coast drilling industry, including the heads of offshore service contractors and an executive with Houston-based ATP Oil & Gas.

Hastings’ unveiled this chart and other data he said indicates permitting is below historic, pre-spill levels:

Doc Hastings’ graphic on Permitting Activity

Jennifer Dlouhy

7 Responses

  1. valmc says:

    thank you ETEE, I appreciate getting the true picture!
    It has been proven over and over and over again, the ‘green’ energy plan can not work at this time. Not with the methods we are using and researching. Therefore we must use fossil fuels, oil, natural gas AND coal. We do have sufficient technology to make coal a much cleaner source and it’s time we get people on the right track and stop wasting Americans tax money and time.

  2. ETEE says:

    I have spent a lifetime as a Marine Engineer in Offshore Oil and the last six years in Offshore Wind Generation. Prior to the BP Spill, the MMS (now BOEMRE)was ramping up personal for the addition of Offshore Wind Generation installations. Greenies all and, for the most part, Anti-Carbon EPA types. After the spill, in an effort not to let a crisis go to waste, the Obama Administration advanced these people to managing the BOEMRE over the Petroleum Engineer types who have been there for decades. Get the picture???

  3. James W Schmidt says:

    This affects all Americans,Ethanol,natural gas andelectric vehicles is a mutch better idea. The gulf has all that oil on the bottom, our grandchildrden deserve we leave them a clearner world than what we are doing toit.

  4. Trail Trash says:

    Hey Ed, what about all the sewage being dumped into Chesapkeake Bay? What’s the environmental effects of that?

  5. XLR8R says:

    Ivar, the Republicans would like the existing government to become efficient instead of LAZY! If the government agency overlooking the permits would hire competent people (engineers, etc.) that understand the industry and not “minimum wage” clerks, perhaps the necessary efficiency would be there.

  6. Jp says:

    “Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said the panel should be studying the long-term environmental effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster”
    Markey needs to worry about his own region and state and keep his nose out of the Gulf. He doesn’t know anything about it.

  7. Ivar says:

    Maybe because of the additional information that needs to be processed, the department processing the permits might need additional staff to get to the same level of output? Oh yea the republicans don’t want to spend money on bigger government.