The following op-ed from David Holt, President of Consumer Energy Alliance, appeared on The Hill’s Congress Blog website here.

Last month when President Obama imposed a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, his decision threatened the livelihood of tens of thousands of workers in the Gulf States. Today, CEA is pleased to see strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill to lift the six-month offshore drilling moratorium including, the introduction of critical legislation in the House and Senate to this effect.

According to the Louisiana lieutenant governor’s office, one in three jobs in the coastal communities surrounding the Gulf of Mexico is directly or indirectly related to the oil and gas industry. For example, helicopter companies in Lafourche, Louisiana transport approximately 15,000 workers each month to offshore oil sites. Nearly 1,200 truckers supply food for these same 15,000 workers. These supportive jobs will be lost if the rig workers can no longer operate in the Gulf.

Further, direct manufacturing companies for the oil and gas industry will be severely impacted. The reduction in demand of products from these manufacturers will mean fewer sales and more costs to supportive jobs throughout the supply chain (i.e. steel workers, transport, service industry, etc.). One such manufacturing company based out of Houston, Texas, ATP Oil & Gas Corporation, expects to incur an additional cost of $30 million due to a suspension of their operations – a cost that would otherwise not have been sustained. Others, such as Otto Candies LLC and Aker Solutions, are expected to drop hundreds of jobs because the moratorium.

Even more startling, halting all rig activity in the Gulf jeopardizes up to $330 million a month in household income — at a very fragile time for the national economy and a particularly difficult time for the Gulf economy, which is already suffering from a loss of tourism and fishing. The Louisiana Midcontinent Oil and Gas Association estimated that the moratorium will reduce domestic energy production by 80,000 barrels per day.

Consumer Energy Alliance recognizes President Obama’s decision was made in direct response to the unprecedented disaster in the Gulf of Mexico but does not believe the unintended consequences of this policy have been properly considered or measured.  Like the President, CEA supports safer drilling and holding responsible parties accountable. But the fact is that these rigs that are being forced to shut down have exemplary safety records and are being unnecessarily penalized, as are the people of the Gulf States. As we continue to search for solutions to this crisis, and to make sure we have safety measures in place so that nothing like this ever happens again, we must also join together to avoid rash legislative decisions that will ultimately only make matters worse. We are running the risk of turning an environmental disaster into an economic catastrophe.

We applaud responsible, common sense approaches – like the bills introduced in Congress by U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy (LA), Senator David Vitter (LA), and U.S. Rep. Pete Olson (TX) – that rightfully overturn President Obama’s deepwater drilling moratorium and help struggling communities in the Gulf region get back on their feet.  From Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to Senator Mary Landrieu to La Fourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph, all are saying the same thing: a continuation of the six-month oil & gas drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico will do far more harm than good.