Lawmakers Propose Interim Solution To Gulf Drilling Ban

Reps. Brady, Green Lead Bipartisan Letter

Washington, D.C. – As the White House continues its ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is proposing an interim step that would satisfy concerns about further spills while protecting approximately three-fourths of the jobs associated with oil and gas production in the Outer Continental Shelf.

 In a letter sent to Secretary Salazar today, 24 lawmakers – led by Texas Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Woodlands) and Gene Green (D-Houston) – proposed allowing low-risk development and appraisal wells to go forward while the Department of Interior continues its assessment on deepwater exploratory wells. Earlier this week a Louisiana federal judge struck down the moratorium, but Administration officials have vowed to appeal.  

 “We believe a critical distinction has been overlooked. Different wells present different levels of risk,” the letter stated and also noted that while historically safe, the highest risk occurs during the initial drilling of exploration wells – five of which are impacted by the moratorium. The other twenty-eight impacted wells in the Gulf are development and appraisal wells which carry much smaller, minimal risk as the parameters of the known reservoir are already defined.

 “This modification to the moratorium will address the Administration’s call for safe and secure drilling, protect an estimated 75% of the jobs that could be lost under the existing deepwater moratorium and help prevent future energy supply shortages in years 2011 and 2012,” say Brady and Green.  

 The bipartisan group of lawmakers also urged the Department of Interior to consider indicating now that U.S. deepwater lease terms will be extended consistent with not just the length of the moratorium but the resulting delay in returning the rig to the OCS and its lease site. This request recognizes that deepwater rigs would not be able to return to production in the Gulf for an additional two to three years after the moratorium expires.

 “This action will ensure that companies continue the major financial investments that permit successful energy production in the United States,” wrote the lawmakers who are concerned the Gulf Coast could suffer the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, $2 billion in wages and the bankruptcies of small and mid-sized businesses who support energy production in the Gulf’s deep water.

 Signing the letter are:  Rep. Kevin Brady (TX-08), Rep. Gene Green (TX-29), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22), Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Rep. Chet Edwards (TX-17), Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Rep. Gregg Harper (MS-03), Rep. Michael Conaway (TX-11), Rep. Joe Barton (TX-06), Rep. Sam Johnson  (TX-03), Rep. Lamar Smith (TX-21), Rep. Ron Paul (TX-14), Rep. John Carter (TX-31), Rep. Pete Sessions (TX-32), Rep. John Culberson (TX-07), Rep. Mac Thornberry (TX-13), Rep. Kay Granger (TX-12), Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-02), Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX-05), Rep. Ralph Hall (TX-04), Rep. Michael Burgess (TX-26), Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10), Rep. Rodney Alexander (LA-05)

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