In a visit to Washington, D.C., yesterday, a group of about fifty energy industry workers and representatives from the Gulf of Mexico area told lawmakers, reporters and bloggers that if the Obama administration and Congress are serious about creating and saving jobs, they will lift the moratorium on energy exploration in the Gulf.
The workers were joined by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and former Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.), outspoken opponents of both the moratorium and tax changes proposed by Democrats that opponents charge would hammer the energy industry.
Thomas Pyle, President of the American Energy Alliance, a group focused on maintaining energy industry jobs in the Gulf area said in a statement, “In an economy like this, the President and Congress should be looking for ways to strengthen U.S. businesses, not weaken them.”
Several of those who traveled to the Hill for meetings with members of Congress say they are suffering financially in the wake of the moratorium’s imposition, and that layoffs and business closures will be unavoidable should it remain in effect.
“My job matters,” said Thomas Clements, co-owner of Oilfield CNC Machining in Broussard, Louisiana. “So I’ve come to Washington to find somebody to hear me, to see my hopelessness, my no-man’s-land that I’m in because of these proposed tax changes to the energy industry and the moratorium.” Clements elaborated, saying that he had planned to hire more workers this year, but the six-month moratorium on drilling has halted those plans. All orders for new metal parts used in drilling have been canceled and no new orders are anticipated, said the small businessman, who questioned how his business could survive for the full six months of the moratorium during a lunch attended by Washington, D.C.-based reporters and bloggers.
According to Tim Griffin of Phoenix Exploration Company, policies including the moratorium either already instituted or being pursued could have a significant effect on jobs long after the moratorium has ended, also. Speaking with reporters and bloggers at the lunch, he said that policies being pursued by Democrats could result in an inability of energy companies to attract capital investment, as well as difficulty in garnering insurance.
Meanwhile, another speaker noted that as many as 20 percent of jobs in the Gulf region could be at risk as a result of the policies in question. Furthermore, added this individual, jobs elsewhere associated with the manufacture of rig workers’ gear could be put at risk.
Former Rep. Peterson dubbed the moratorium and other policies being pursued by the administration and congressional allies “policies in total that will cause an economic train wreck.”
“Energy needs to be a much bigger issue than it is,” he added.
Hill sources say Democratic energy legislation is not anticipated to be acted on before the August recess. However, that could mean that Gulf state representatives return home to outraged constituents voicing strong opinions about matters affecting the industry, similar to those aired yesterday.
But some officials in Washington, D.C. are already indicating that awareness of problems created by the moratorium is on the rise. “There are a lot of people hurting out there,” said Michael Bromwich, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, this week. “I certainly don’t think we can afford to ignore that.”