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Oily politics; Hold on drilling senseless.

COLUMN: In our opinion

Even as BP appeared poised this week to finally stop the three-month old underwater gusher spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration again defied economic sense - and a federal court order - by issuing a moratorium on deepwater drilling through Nov. 30.

The administration's original May 27 order putting a halt to deepwater operations was soundly rejected by a federal court that could not "divine or fathom a relationship between the findings and the immense scope of the moratorium." The government's appeal of that order was also quickly rejected.

Undeterred, the administration has simply imposed a new order, one that will directly affect 33 deepwater rigs. Two such floating rigs, belonging to Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc., have already moved to foreign waters. And drilling industry groups say that while exploration in shallower waters is still permitted, uncertainty over new regulations is even hampering those operations - with about a third of the shallow water fleet now idle, according to testimony given this week to investigators.

The reality is that putting a hold on oil exploration will cost thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in lost revenue, while doing nothing to enhance safety. Producers cannot afford to keep their equipment idle, and the American economy cannot wait for the energy it needs. A prolonged moratorium will force companies to redeploy resources to foreign waters, and only increase the nation's reliance on foreign oil.

It is hard to know which is worse: the administration's disregard for a clear federal court ruling, or its ignorance of economic realities. Both are doing damage every bit as real as the oil that continues to wash ashore in the Gulf of Mexico.
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Title Annotation:EDITORIAL
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jul 14, 2010
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