While this isn’t our normal fare here at WUWT, I found it interesting and relevant, since WUWT covered the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling spill story early on here, with several follow ups. This story is a result of that spill. – Anthony
Guest post by WUWT moderator Mike Lorrey
US Department of Interior Inspector General Kendall is now investigating claims by seven members of the National Academy of Engineers that Interior falsified statements by them in order to support the Obama Administrations arguments for a moratorium on offshore oil drilling in the wake of the BP oil spill.
As you may recall, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was asked by President Obama for recommendations on new drilling safety recommendations. On May 27th, Obama announced a six month moratorium on offshore drilling based on Salazar’s report, the top recommendation of which was a moratorium on drilling.
The Department of the Interior later said it didn’t intend to imply that the experts had supported the moratorium. Oh dear, that must make it all better. After all, good intentions helped the hockey team get away with their climategate related actions.
Fortunately, the courts aren’t having any of this sort of argument. The engineers complaints are also a central part of the federal lawsuit against the moratorium, which to date, has gone badly for the Obama administration.
A Justice Department attorney, Brian Collins, argued in the case before Judge Martin Feldman that the government was justified in acting because the potential environmental and economic harm that would come from the risk of a second rig disaster would far outweigh the costs of the moratorium. Collins said a better question (versus the 10,000 oil drilling jobs at stake) is the tens of thousands of people whose livelihoods are harmed by the ongoing oil leak.
Feldman frequently interrupted attorneys Montero and Collins with questions about the “probity” of the record on which the Interior Department’s decision was based, the basis of the six-month time frame, and why steps aren’t taken to shut down other industries if there’s a horrible accident.
Indeed. By this sort of logic, the hockey team’s claims of catastrophic global warming justifies shutting down the entire global coal and oil industries no matter what the economic impact.
Now, claims of economic harm from the ongoing oil leak are difficult to assess. Primarily because those most impacted by the spill, for instance, shrimp fishermen and beach/vacation industry employees, are largely being employed by BP on a full time basis to clean up the oil mess, from skimming oil on the water to cleaning up tarballs on beaches. One would be hard pressed to say whether these people are working harder or not than they would have in an otherwise depressed economy, where family budgets for vacations and shrimp food products may be otherwise limited. Given the type of work, one might say they are earning more per hour doing this cleanup work than they would be doing their normal labor.
It is, however, far easier to assess damages when entire industries are shut down with no alternative employment during the interim. While the moratorium has been lifted by court order, the Obama administration continues to enforce it and is fighting it on appeal. Uncertainty due to this fight is creating a de facto moratorium as companies are loathe to risk capital drilling when they don’t know if they may be shut down from day to day in the political tug of war.
Similarly, uncertainty over cap and trade legislation has created similar uncertainty in the wider economy for businesses of all types, making them loathe to spend capital on business expansion, productivity improvements, and hiring, when they do not know from day to day whether they will need that capital to pay for carbon credits or other emissions mitigation efforts.
Now that Senator Reid has taken cap and trade off the schedule for the remainder of the term, we may see that business, in a sigh of relief, will open their purse strings to helping finally to capitalize a true economic recovery, not the fake recovery of earlier this year in the teachers and police union industries, as well as in the temporary census worker industry. They may hold off on this until after the elections deliver a significant loss of control in Congress, particularly if it leads to the removal of Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker with the GOP regaining a majority in the House.
Either way, on the Interior Department investigation, I suspect we will see a whitewash similar to recent climategate related inquiries.