Expert: Seven-year moratorium on Gulf oil drilling an unwise decision

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Obama administration’s decision to maintain a ban on oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts is a mistake, according to a University of Illinois expert who wrote a six-volume book series on marine pollution.

“It’s a ridiculous decision on the part of the Interior Department,” said John W. Kindt, a professor of business and legal policy at Illinois. “The previous 180-day moratorium really hurt a lot of businesses. Well, a seven-year ban is going to sting even more.”

Kindt says giving the oil companies a public spanking through a seven-year ban isn’t going to solve our energy problems, and that unreasonably prohibiting offshore drilling will not only exacerbate the region’s economic woes, it also will strengthen U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

“Our motto should be ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ but ‘Safely, Baby, Safely,’ ” he said. “We have two wars in the Middle East, and while we do need alternate sources of energy, in the interim we still need to safely develop our off-shore resources. That means we need to open up both the East Coast and California for drilling, although California is not going to like that. But we’ve got to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.”

According to Kindt, the author of “Marine Pollution and the Law of the Sea,” a six-volume series that examines protecting the world’s oceans while encouraging development of essential resources, the real villain in the new contretemps is not BP (formerly British Petroleum), but the Department of the Interior, with the recently announced seven-year moratorium serving as yet another example of what he says is the department’s shortsightedness and incompetence.

“The real issue is the Interior Department, which is the most scandal-ridden agency in American history,” he said. “Along with an inability to regulate, the entire department is rife with conflicts of interest, which came to light during the BP fiasco when Interior Secretary (Ken) Salazar was making statements to the effect of, ‘We’ve got our heel on the throat of BP.’ Statements like that were just a way to divert attention away from their own inadequacy.”

Kindt argues the Interior Department is just as culpable as BP for the disaster in the Gulf yet has somehow avoided any real scrutiny in the court of public opinion.

“The regulators at Interior didn’t just have a cozy relationship with the people they’re supposed to be regulating, they had outright conflicts of interest,” he said. “I fault the regulators at Interior for not doing what they should have been doing.”

But that’s not to say that BP should be given a free pass, Kindt says. BP is guilty of managerial arrogance, and “not looking out for the public interest.”

“BP’s management needs to be much more focused on emergency action and safety concerns,” he said. “For years we’ve been talking about the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which resulted in billions of dollars of liabilities for Exxon. That’s going to be dwarfed by whatever BP is going to have to pay, when all is said and done. So from a strategic management perspective, safety pays. We’ve been saying for years that the oil companies should have learned from the Valdez debacle after Exxon had allowed the safety mechanisms to lapse as part of a cost-cutting measure.”

When firms get rid of their internal independent safety and monitoring mechanisms, huge problems inevitably develop, Kindt says.

“The classic example is Enron and Arthur Andersen,” he said. “About five years before the Enron-Arthur Andersen debacle, Arthur Andersen eliminated its own best internal monitoring practices and people as a cost-saving measure. Obviously, that didn’t work out too well for them. The bottom line isn’t always the dollar. You need a responsible management team in place, because the pressure is always going to be to grab the fast buck.”

Editor’s note: To contact John Kindt, call 217-333-6018; e-mail [email protected].

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2 thoughts on “Expert: Seven-year moratorium on Gulf oil drilling an unwise decision”

  1. “unwise decision?”

    Banning offshore drilling has to be the dumbest “decision” on record!

    Here we are living in the richest state in the Union, in the richest country on the planet with enough oil, natural gas & coal to fulfill our energy needs for at least the next 300 years.

    And I won’t even get into the nuclear energy possibilities where we could be building cogeneration offshore nuclear power plants on all three coasts that would provide not only all the electricity we would ever need but all the potable water too!

    Plenty of water and cheaper & more plentiful energy which would be huge incentives to bring manufacturing & industry back to America.

    I’m talking about JOBS, JOBS & MORE JOBS!!!

    But we are being misgoverned by a bunch of Liberals in D.C. who have NEVER “met a payroll” in their life and allowed a few environmentalists who are more concerned about a two-inch fish in Central CA & polar bears in Alaska than the welfare & livelihood of hundreds of millions of Americans. We have plenty of water, oil, natural gas & coal for hundreds of years, it’s just that the Democrats in D.C. won’t allow us to have any!

    Obama bans off-shore drilling in America putting tens of thousands of MORE Americans out of work while the price of gasoline has risen a dollar a gallon since he’s been in office.

    But Obama has no problem lending Brazil TWO BILLION DOLLARS of American taxpayers’ money to do the exact same thing off the coast of Brazil.

    Of course, what many don’t know is that, George Soros has not only been a HUGE contributor of Obama’s campaigns for years, Soros also has a BILLION DOLLARS invested in what? Brazil’s petroleum company, PETROBRAS, that is doing what? Drilling off the shore of Brazil…coincidental? Hardly! Soros’ favorite line is, “Money talks!”

    It seems that Obama has a problem with Americans working & drilling for oil in our country but no problem lending Brazil our money to drill off their coast!

    And where are all the Liberals who were making charges that the Bush’s & Cheney’s were profiting from oil during the Bush administration?

    The silence is deafening…Like Larry Elder said on his radio show last week, the difference is “Obama is their guy!”

    Americans want JOBS not Food Stamps & Unemployment checks.

    Margaret Thatcher once said, Socialism only works ’til you run out of other peoples’ money.

    “Liberalism is just Communism sold by the drink.” P.J.O’Rourke

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