Pressure Mounts Over Drilling Moratorium

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is ramping up pressure on the Obama administration over the BP oil spill — but not in the way that many people might expect. Jindal is demanding that deepwater drilling, the process that resulted in April's disastrous spill off the Louisiana coast, resume again as soon as possible. He argues that the economic losses from a six-month federal moratorium on the practice will only compound the widespread environmental concerns about the spill's long-term effects.

"Our people don't want a BP check. They don't want an unemployment check," Jindal told a supportive audience of about 360 people in Lafayette, La., on Wednesday (Sept. 1). "They want to go back to work."

Later on Wednesday, Jindal and other supporters of deepwater drilling won a court victory when a federal judge refused to throw out a lawsuit that demands an end to the drilling moratorium. The judge's decision adds to the political pressure that has been mounting on the Obama administration in recent weeks, particularly since it's not the first time the courts have viewed the moratorium with skepticism. A federal judge had already struck down an initial drilling ban, forcing the administration to impose a second, slightly modified one that it argues is necessary to ensure that drilling can be done safely before it resumes.

As Stateline reported earlier this week , tens of thousands of people along the Gulf Coast depend on the oil industry — either directly or indirectly — for employment, and that dependency has led some state officials to walk a fine line as they respond to the oil spill. On one hand, they are vowing to hold BP accountable; on the other, they are being mindful not to alienate the industry that is a major regional employer.

The Obama administration acknowledges that the drilling moratorium is likely to cause thousands of job losses, and it has hinted that it may be willing to lift the ban before November.



Related Stories