With a 9.6 percent unemployment rate overall in the United States and unemployment rates showing an uptick in states on the Gulf of Mexico that allow offshore oil drilling, one has to wonder what the Obama administration is thinking its Draconian wide-sweeping moratorium halting deepwater drilling in the Gulf after the BP oil spill.
While environmentalists are using today's explosion on a oil production platform in the Gulf to support a drilling moratorium, critics like CNBC's "Fast Money" panelist Jon Najarian have questioned the wisdom of the Obama administration's decision to put up to 75,000 in limbo.
"As far as what was going on in the Gulf, it shows a tone-deafness from this administration," Najarian said on the Sept. 2 broadcast of "Fast Money." "I mean, I'll pound the table for that because I'm not running for office. But I mean, this guy is tone deaf that 75,000 jobs in the Gulf of Mexico that have been idled for no good reason. It's costing all of us and it costs all the places where they would normally spend money as well."
On Sept. 2, a federal judge denied the federal government's request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging that moratorium.
The 75,000 jobs number is a figure backed up by the Dr. Lee Hunt, president of the International Association of Drilling Contractors. In a May 13 letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Hunt warned then the ban would eventually impact that many job in the Gulf Coast states.
"Due to the Department's order, rigs completing wells in the next weeks will be unable to take on new work," Hunt wrote. "Over the next six weeks, up to 50 drilling rigs will complete wells and be unable to accept new work. These rigs will be idled, and those employees working directly on the rig face the prospect of unemployment, even if only temporarily. Additionally, employees of supporting service companies will also face unemployment. These workers represent a significant portion of the 75,000 hard-working individuals employed in the offshore Gulf of Mexico. The ripple effects of this abeyance of all new drilling will adversely impact coastal communities across Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama."