By Blocking Gulf Drilling, Obama Costs Jobs and Raises Gas Prices

The Obama administration drags its feet in allowing the energy industry to create jobs.

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If you look at it closely, it is almost as though President Barack Obama and his Interior Department don't want energy exploration in the Gulf of Mexico to resume under any circumstances.

Whether they are waiting for the U.S. Senate to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty so we have to share the revenues with poorer countries or they plain just don't want America back in the energy production business, their lack of progress in getting oil and natural gas development back on line is costing the country jobs and economic growth.

[Check out our energy intelligence blog.]

The region accounts for about 30 percent of U.S. oil production and 11 percent of natural gas. After the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, Obama and company instituted a moratorium on deepwater drilling that nearly put a stop to the energy development in the Gulf all together.

That was in June 2010. After pressure from Congress and a couple of court rulings the moratorium was lifted, but the Interior Department and Secretary Ken Salazar are still sitting on their permit stamps. This "permit freeze" has led to what at least one industry analyst has said is a 250 percent increase in pending exploration and production plans and an 8 percent drop in the number of Gulf permits being issued says the Consumer Energy Alliance at its Open the Gulf web site.

[See a collection of political cartoons on energy policy.]

The economic costs of the government's inaction are serious. It has already led to the disappearance of 20,000 "good jobs at good wages" and threatens nearly 400,000 throughout the country. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, oil production in the Gulf would decline by an additional 190,000 barrels per day next year over what has already been lost unless the regulatory moratorium ends. A recent study by IHS-CERA and IHS Global Insight found that increasing the pace of permit approvals for oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico would create 23,000 new jobs in nearly every state in the country, bolster U.S. gross domestic product by $44 billion, and generate nearly $12 billion in additional government revenues.

Re-opening the Gulf would increase domestic oil production by more than 400,000 barrels per day, reduce U.S. spending on imported oil by $15 billion, and lower fuel and energy prices for consumers and small business, which sounds like a winning formula for economic growth. Why the Obama administration continues to let things lie, despite a national unemployment rate that is still north of 9 percent, is a mystery. What isn't is that America needs the jobs and needs the energy.

  • Read: 'Green Tape' Is Stopping U.S. Energy Production and Job Growth
  • See a collection of political cartoons on gas prices.
  • Read the U.S. News debate: Should offshore drilling be expanded?