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Friday, August 01, 2008

Offshore Drilling, the States and the Environment

The need to boost energy exploration and development should be pretty obvious to all given the run up in energy prices in recent years. Yet, many politicians still oppose lifting the congressional ban on energy development in most U.S. offshore areas.

Much of that opposition comes from coastal state politicians and environmentalists. Given that, it’s well worth reading a July 29 report from titled “Louisiana touts its offshore drilling.”

At one point, the article states the following about offshore oil drilling and the state of Louisiana:

The $70 billion industry employs more than 320,000 people in the state. Unemployment rates in some coastal parishes hover around 3.5 percent, compared to 5.5 percent nationally. And the oil industry supports both the only deep-sea oil port in the United States and a Gulf of Mexico port that handles more vessels than even the Mississippi River. While states on the east and west coasts debate whether to drill for offshore oil and natural gas, Louisiana and three other Gulf Coast states hold up their offshore drilling operations as proof that they can produce oil and gas without hurting the environment.

And later, the piece concludes:

But Chris John, president of Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, a trade group, said the industry’s track record during the 2005 hurricane season that brought Katrina and Rita, two Category 5 hurricanes, to the off-shore sites proved that the industry could protect the environment. The hurricanes destroyed 113 offshore platforms and damaged 447 pipelines, according to the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency overseeing offshore drilling. With those two systems coming within two weeks of each other there were no — zero — no significant oil spills on the Outer Continental Shelf. I think that in and of itself proves that the industry can go out and drill, produce and explore in an environmentally sensitive area,” he said.

These are important points to keep in mind as policymakers wrestle with this critical issue for our economy.

Raymond J. Keating
Chief Economist
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

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