Dear President Obama and Secretary Salazar:
I am writing to express my grave concerns regarding the severe economic impact of a six-month (or longer) suspension of activity at 33 previously permitted deepwater drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, including and in particular the 22 deepwater drilling rigs currently in operation off the Louisiana coast.
Already, Louisiana has suffered severe negative economic and ecological impacts from the BP oil spill. Our seafood industry is experiencing huge economic losses that have only been partially mitigated by a frustratingly slow and inadequate BP claims process. Moreover, our precious wetlands are suffering incalculable, permanent damages, while our tourism industry faces escalating losses.
During one of the most challenging economic periods in decades, the last thing we need is to enact public policies that will certainly destroy thousands of existing jobs while preventing the creation of thousands more.
The Louisiana Department of Economic Development estimates that the active drilling suspension alone will result in a loss of 3,000 to 6,000 Louisiana jobs in the next 2-3 weeks and potentially over 10,000 Louisiana jobs within a few months. If the suspension of active drilling activity continues for an extended period, LED estimates that our state risks losing more than 20,000 existing and potential new Louisiana jobs in the next 12-18 months.
Obviously these losses would come on top of those already generated by the spill and its related effects. Moreover, the announced moratorium of deepwater drilling activity creates a significant risk that many of these drilling platforms would be relocated to other countries — along with the hundreds of high paying jobs that they each create.
Additionally, I fully understand the need for strict oversight of deepwater drilling. However, I would ask that the federal government move quickly to ensure that all deepwater drilling is in proper compliance with federal regulation and is conducted safely so that energy production and more importantly, thousands of jobs, are not in limbo.
Thank you in advance for your swift consideration of this request.
Governor Bobby Jindal