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Con: Moratorium on offshore drilling stifles economic growth, increases our dependency on foreign oil

By JJ VELASQUEZ
June 20, 2010 at 1:20 a.m.


Thomas Webb is not working for the first time in 32 years after being placed on furlough by an offshore drilling company.

President Obama issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater offshore drilling in June, a response to the Gulf oil rig blast and spill that killed 11 men and threatens the environment. The moratorium indirectly forced Webb off of his job.

"I'm irritated at BP, but I'm pissed off at the government for throwing the sink in," he said.

While the Gulf oil spill prompted a moratorium on offshore drilling deeper than 500 feet, work in shallow-water rigs was supposed to continue.

But new safety rules and pending stipulations set by the Interior Department in response to the disaster are delaying the issuance of permits for drilling in shallow water, Webb said.

Webb, who lives in Nursery, was furloughed last week because Seahawk Drilling, the Houston-based company he worked for, has had to leave the rig off the shore of Cameron, La., amid the regulatory limbo.

He will no longer receive paychecks, but will continue to receive insurance coverage. He filed a loss-of-income claim against BP and plans to file for unemployment soon, he said.

Arleen Weise's son Adam was one of the 11 men who died in the April explosion in the Gulf.

Weise opposes the moratorium.

"All it's going to do is cause more people to be unemployed," she said.

Weise and other families of the blast victims recently met with the President and his staff in Washington, D.C.

When she told President Obama that a moratorium would do more harm than good, he told her they are trying to make sure the rigs are safe, she recounted.

But she said safety problems are not endemic in the offshore oil drilling industry.

"It's not an industry-wide problem, no," she said. "The best interests were not where they should have been."

While fishermen in the Gulf shake fists at BP as the oil spill puts their livelihoods at stake, Weise worries about the livelihoods of the men and women affected by the offshore moratorium.

Webb worries more specifically for the young families of his compatriots on the Seahawk rig.

"I'm worried about my hands on the rigs, the young guys that are just starting out with their families," he said.

Related story: Pro: Moratorium allows government to revamp regulation, paves road for clean energy

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