Business Complains Offshore Drilling Permits Still Stalled

Jan 31, 2012

The Greater New Orleans Inc. says a survey of small and mid-sized companies shows they’re still suffering from the 2010 off-shore drilling moratorium enacted after the BP oil spill. Business and political leaders are calling on Washington for help.

A new word is being added to the moratorium argument. It’s “permitorium,” and was mentioned by several speakers at a news conference held outside Superior Energy offices at the Harvey Canal. GNO President Michael Hecht says 102 businesses represented in the survey report they’re still struggling financially because of the moratorium lifted in the fall of 2010.

“Here we are, 15 months later, and we are still seeing deepwater permits at over a 70 percent deficit to historical levels.”   

Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Jefferson says the problem seems to be at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement – the agency created from the Bureau of Ocean Management after the spill.

“What we’ve been trying to show for a long time is the direct impact on our small and local businesses that this moratorium – and now permitorium – are having on our community but on the nation’s energy security as a whole.”    

BSEE issued a statement, saying the agency – quote – “continues to review and approve drilling permits ensuring that the enhanced safety and environmental requirements and standards are met.” Unquote.

Lori Davis owns a chemical company in Houma that supplies offshore drilling. She says she’s managed to keep most of her staff, but it’s a financial hardship.

“Even now, after this time has gone by, we still don’t have a good plan. We’re still dipping in to our personal savings. We’re still using personal lines of credit to be able to continue to operate.”    

Scalise says Congress will be asked to put time limits in place for business to get faster action on permits they need to work.