Oil and Water

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In two recent stories, The Wall Street Journal has told us much about the Obama administration’s current ban on deepwater oil drilling.

The first story (August 21) give us a glimpse into Obama’s environmentalist mindset. The administration instituted a moratorium on offshore drilling in June (after the BP oil spill in late April), but a federal judge tossed it out shortly afterward because, among other reasons, it did not consider the economic effects of the moratorium on the Gulf Coast.

For you environmentalists, the “economic effects” of an institutional action are its environmental impact on a particular species, that is, homo sapiens. Admittedly, that species is not as noble and worth conserving as the spotted owl or the delta smelt, but it is still — you must admit — a lifeform.

The Obama regime, being devoutly Green, promptly reinstituted the ban. In the latest court battle over the new moratorium, the Justice Department filed 27,000 pages of documents in defense of it. These documents reveal that the Obama regime actually did finally condescend to do an economic study of the moratorium’s costs to the Gulf region. The regime’s own top regulator when it comes to offshore drilling told Interior Secretary Salazar that a deepwater-drilling ban would cost, in six months alone, at least 23,000 jobs. This was reported in a memo on July 10.

Right after the judge in the original case overruled the original moratorium, the Justice Department estimated that it would affect fewer than 33 wells, which would mean fewer than 12,000 jobs. But upon reflection, it eventually doubled that estimate.

So the Obama regime, in the midst of nearly double-digit unemployment, deliberately chose to snuff out 24,000 well- paying jobs — and kept quiet about the figure. Astonishing.

The other story (August 7) concerns the response of the rest of the world to the BP disaster. It was, Drill, but with due caution.

Norway, for instance, has put a temporary moratorium on new deepwater drilling, but it is allowing its existing wells to keep pumping. Moreover, it has announced plans to push into the deep waters of the Barents and Norwegian Seas, put- ting nearly 100 blocks up for leasing.

Australia has instituted no moratoria on offshore drilling and has offered 31 new leases for wells at twice the depth of the BP well. New Zealand has opened the east coast of North Island for the first offshore drilling.

Brazil is moving full steam ahead. It intends to spend $200 billion over the next five years to exploit a huge, recently discovered reserve three miles down — a reserve containing perhaps 380 million barrels of oil. Petrobas is accordingly searching for 60 deep-sea rigs by 2017, and it is aggressively recruiting rig owners in the Gulf to sign agreements.

In short, other nations see that deepwater drilling is essential, although it needs careful monitoring. Would that we had a regime so realistic.

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