Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Written by Cherry Fisher May

It’s time to resume drilling, safely and swiftly.

My husband Steve and I just returned from an extended trip through Turkey, Croatia and Italy, part business and part vacation. Given the disaster in the Gulf, it was a difficult time to be away, but we were able to follow the story via the Internet (including our own daily coverage on theind.com), international broadcast and print news sources. From tiny villages to big cities, we were heartened as people everywhere expressed their concern for the plight of our region, speaking mostly of endangered fishermen and wildlife. Here at home, we know the impact is even deeper and broader, as much a result of the reaction in Washington as it is of BP’s problems at the well.

Before the facts were fully explored, the president’s knee-jerk reaction was to pursue a moratorium on deepwater drilling, which not only jeopardizes an entire industry but also the nation’s security and economic recovery. From congressional testimony and press reports of BP’s safety record (760 OSHA fines for BP compared to Exxon’s single infraction), it’s becoming clear that the company has operated recklessly — perhaps even been allowed to by oversight agencies — for decades. A U.S. district judge ruled June 22 that the inexplicable failure of one deepwater rig does not warrant a blanket moratorium for all, but the administration has vowed to fight the decision. At a time when oil and gas producers should be focused on safer ways to produce the energy our nation demands, they’ve been forced instead to shift into survival mode with no clear end in sight.

In a letter to the chairman of the newly appointed commission to study the disaster, Sen. Mary Landrieu notes that the moratorium is likely to have a greater negative impact on Gulf Coast families and businesses than the spill itself. Citing the potential loss of 20,000 jobs (the equivalent of closing several car assembly plants at once) she has called for the immediate resumption of operations on 33 currently permitted rigs using more stringent standards, updated crew training and federal inspectors on every rig. Her 11-point plan (available on her website Landrieu.senate.gov) is gaining traction among those in the industry, who are struggling with the stifling uncertainty as the issue works its way through the commissions, the courts and Congress. 

Our nation is hungry for energy, and we need to be able to meet that demand independently, hopefully someday through renewable, sustainable resources. The president was on the right track earlier this year when he announced plans for expanded offshore production as a bridge to that new era. Until then, the mining of domestic reserves of oil and natural gas must be part of the mix, and even this ruptured well with all its tragic and awesome power can’t change that.

(Publisher’s Note: We know that many companies are focused on issues surrounding the spill, but we encourage all to take a few minutes to submit the information for this year’s Acadiana Top 50 issue by July 2. The range of revenues among companies on last year’s list was $15 million to $400 million. To participate or nominate a company, email Editorial Director Leslie Turk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and research assistant Erin Zaunbrecher at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; please put Acadiana Top 50 in the subject line. The list and analysis will be published in the next issue of ABiz, which will also cover the locally domiciled publicly traded companies. All companies will be honored at a luncheon on Aug. 26. Respected national political analyst Charlie Cook is keynote speaker. For more information or to order tickets online, visit our website: www.theind.com/ind-events or contact Robin Hebert at 769-8620 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . It’s more important now than ever to honor local businesses as they come together to deal with this challenge. I hope you can join us.)

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