After the disastrous BP deepwater oil well disaster that
killed 11 people and fouled the Gulf of Mexico for most
of the summer of 2010, President Obama’s oil spill
commission has recommended even tighter controls on
offshore drilling. Among these recommendations are
doubling the review time for new drilling permits from
30 days to 60 days, raising the liability limit by $75
million for oil companies that are involved in a spill, and
an indefinite ban on Arctic oil drilling until more eco-
sensitive methods can be developed.
These new regulations and limits will add to a collection
of restrictions that the Obama administration has
already established, beginning in 2010:
In March, weeks before the Gulf oil spill, the
Obama Administration canceled four pending lease
sales off the coast of Alaska.
In December, it was announced that the eastern
Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts
would not be open for oil drilling until at least
Because of these new measures, only nine new deep-
water drilling permits have been issued since the
President’s moratorium on deep-water drilling ended in
Prior to the spill, almost six new permits
were approved every month.
The anti-drilling stance of the Obama Administration is
already having a telling effect on offshore oil production,
which is expected to fall by as much as 13 percent in
2011. Before the oil spill, production was expected to
increase by six percent. Reduced domestic drilling will
inevitably lead to an increased dependence on oil from
ironically, this creates a greater risk of
spills because the tankers that bring foreign oil to the
United States are more likely to have spills than
domestic offshore wells.
With gasoline prices creeping upward and our economy
on unstable footing, now is not the time to restrict the
search for energy. While drilling “everywhere” will not
make gas universally cheap and accessible, the mere
possibility of any nation putting more oil on the world
market helps reduce prices.
If anything, initiating more domestic offshore drilling
reduces America’s exposure to potential contractions in
the world oil market, keeping us more secure and energy
At present, about 85 percent of the nation’s coastal
waters are already off limits to oil exploration. To lower
the price of energy and lessen our dependence on foreign
oil, America’s Outer Continental Shelf in the eastern
Gulf of Mexico, plus the Atlantic and Pacific coasts,
must be opened for greater oil and gas exploration.
Open America’s Outer Continental Shelf in the
eastern Gulf of Mexico, plus the Atlantic and
Pacific coasts, to greater oil and gas exploration.
Allow oil and gas companies to obtain accident
insurance from private insurance companies to
prevent taxpayers paying for large spills.
Doing so would have the potential to create a minimum
of 113,000 new jobs by 2030.
Even with the Obama Administration’s raising of the
liability cap on oil and gas companies for the accidents
they cause, this ceiling may still be too low. Nevertheless,
having a higher cap, or none at all, does nothing to
address possible safety and liability concerns. To address
this, Congress should require catastrophic insurance
coverage, but allow private insurance to cover liability.
This would keep taxpayers from having to pay for large oil
spills that companies are unable to cover out of their own
Ben Lieberman, “A Rational Post-Spill Policy that
Allows Offshore Drilling.” The Heritage
Foundation Web Memo 2958, July 14, 2010.
Available at http://tinyurl.com/2fclwxw. Access
verified August 4, 2011.
David Kreutzer, “Three Policy Changes to Help
with Gasoline Prices.” The Heritage Foundation
Web Memo 3096, January 12, 2011. Available at
http://tinyurl.com/4srvulj. Access verified August 4,
Darren Goode, “Oil Spill Panel Calls for Drilling Reform.” Politico, January
10, 2011. Available at http://tinyurl.com/49h89vz. Access verified August 4,
“Morning Bell: Obama’s Anti-Drilling Agenda.” The Heritage Foundation,
The Foundry, January 11, 2011. Available at http://tinyurl.com/49uyw5f.
Access verified August 4, 2011.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement,
“Status of Drilling Permits Subject to Enhanced Safety and Environmental
Requirements in the Gulf of Mexico.” Updated June 23, 2011. Available at
http://tinyurl.com/26xrawz. Access verified June 23, 2011.
“Deep Water Drilling Permits Down 88% in Gulf Since Obama Lifted
Moratorium.” The Heritage Foundation, The Foundry, January 7, 2011.
Available at http://tinyurl.com/28o6tj7. Access verified August 4, 2011.
Ben Lieberman, “A Rational Post-Spill Policy that Allows Offshore Drilling.”
Heritage Foundation Web Memo 2958, July 14, 2010. Available at
http://tinyurl.com/2fclwxw. Access verified August 4, 2011.
David Kreutzer, “Three Policy Changes to Help with Gasoline Prices.” The
Heritage Foundation Web Memo 3096, January 12, 2011. Available at
http://tinyurl.com/4srvulj. Access verified August 4, 2011.
“Meeting America’s Energy and Environmental Needs.” The Heritage
Foundation Solutions for America, August 17, 2010. Available at
http://tinyurl.com/6cqu868. Access verified August 4, 2011.
Nicolas Loris, Jack Spencer, and James Carafano, “Oil Spill Liability: A
Plan for Reform.” The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder 2446, August 2,
2010. Available at http://tinyurl.com/2cg6zkg. Access verified August 4,