CEA president applauds decision by 8 members of Interior’s review panel “to step up and speak out” against moratorium

HOUSTON – June 10, 2010 Eight members of the Interior Department’s 30-day offshore review panel sent a letter to Louisiana’s governor and U.S. senators this week suggesting that although they “broadly agree with the detailed recommendations” included in the May 27 report, “we do not agree with the six month blanket moratorium” on new deepwater exploratory wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Copies of both the cover letter and the reviewers’ statement are available on CEA’s website.

Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) president David Holt issued the following statement subsequent to reviewing the notice.

“Every one of these eight experts were recommended to sit on this panel by the National Academy of Engineering, and neither that recommendation nor their appointment to this review board were things that happened by accident. These are folks who understand the realities of offshore energy exploration in America today, and whose commitment to ensuring it’s pursued in a balanced and responsible manner is well known and well established.

“As we seek to understand more about what contributed to the tragedy in the Gulf, CEA recognizes that safety is the highest priority for the administration, the industry, and American energy consumers.  That’s why we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the president as he and his administration seek to gather all the facts about what went wrong that day, and how we can ensure it never happens again. But as we engage that critical work, we shouldn’t turn our backs on the thousands of men and women in the region whose lives and livelihoods are inextricably linked to safe operations in the Gulf.

“In imposing this moratorium and idling these workers, this policy will have the effect of placing another crippling burden on the citizens of the Gulf.  Recent reports suggest that lost wages could exceed $330 million for every month the moratorium continues, on top of billions in lost revenue for state and local governments. The decision by these eight members of the Interior review panel to step up and speak out is one that CEA both applauds and supports. Armed with these new perspectives, it’s our hope the administration reconsiders its decision with respect to offshore exploration.”

NOTE: Dr. Richard Bea, professor of engineering at the University of California-Berkeley, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune yesterday that the “moratorium was not a part of the … report we consulted-advised-reviewed … Word from DOI was it was a W(hite) H(ouse) request.” The eight members of the Interior Department’s 30-day review panel who sent the letter this week represent more than half of the entire committee (15 members in total).