President Obama Claims Shorter Leases for Oil Producers Will Encourage Development

March 30, 2011

During remarks this morning at Georgetown University, President Obama proclaimed, "Right now, the industry holds tens of millions of acres of leases where it's not producing a drop - sitting on supplies of American energy just waiting to be tapped.  That's why part of our plan is to provide new and better incentives that promote rapid, responsible development of these resources."

Rather than pursue thoughtful, visionary solutions, the administration continues the stale blame game of yesterday, chiding the very companies who have been victimized by its de facto drilling moratorium. 

We are confronted with a permitting problem, not a leasing problem. As a result of the administration's stalled action in the Gulf of Mexico, we have seen rigs move to foreign waters, companies go bankrupt, and thousands of jobs lost. Just last month, shallow-water drilling company Seahawk Drilling was forced into bankruptcy because of severe permitting delays for Gulf exploration.  At a recent Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing, Jim Noe, Executive Director of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition, gave an emotional recap of the day when Seahawk Drilling declared bankruptcy. 
 
Astonishingly, the President's comments come as his own administration is using the judicial process to further block drilling in the Gulf. In February, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman ruled that the Department of Interior's delay on permits in the Gulf was "increasingly inexcusable" and mandated the agency to decide on five deepwater drilling projects within 30 days.  Instead of complying with the court's decision, Interior upped the ante and appealed the ruling, further delaying the permits.

Finger pointing and searching for scapegoats will not bring down prices at the pump.  It is time to end the de facto moratorium and put the Gulf back to work.

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