Help for those attempting to thwart the latest Gulf of Mexico drilling moratorium may be riding in from Texas.
On Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a legal challenge to the Obama administration's second moratorium. In doing so, the state joins such companies as driller Ensco
The Texas action -- I'm a Texan, so watch for prejudice -- charges the administration with violating a federal law requiring consultation with affected states prior to the imposition of a moratorium. Don't be surprised if Texas isn't joined by other Gulf states: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has argued that the ban will unnecessarily damage the economy of the Gulf Coast.
As Texas was filing its action, U.S. regulators were asking U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to toss out the latest corporate lawsuits against the drilling stoppage. Feldman, who found for industry plaintiffs in the first go-round, asked for briefs from both sides by Aug. 18 to ensure that the administration didn't use the BP
He also asked why he shouldn't be concerned that the government would repeatedly issue new moratoriums to replace each one he struck down. On that topic, Carl Rosenblum, an attorney for Hornbeck, added, "The government is making a mockery of the judicial process."
But rather than serve as a court reporter, I'll take the bit in my teeth and offer my opinion on the wisdom of moratoriums. First, let's note that 331 wells were drilled in the Gulf in 2009, a small portion of the 50,000 wells drilled in federal waters there since 1947. Nearly 4,000 Gulf wells have been drilled in more than 1,000 feet of water, and 700 have exceeded 5,000 feet. Yet the last major spill occurred in 1969 -- off California.
Last year 31% of domestic oil production came from the Gulf, with 80% of that found in the deepwater. So, for the sake of our domestic energy needs and the 150,000 jobs provided by offshore oil and gas operations, let's not be carried away by one spill -- horrendous as it was.
Rather, let's increase the frequency of rig inspections and assist the likes of Cameron
Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. He really is a Texan, once having trod the halls of driller Diamond Offshore. National Oilwell Varco is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Ensco. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool has a disclosure policy.