By Jay Heflin - 08/17/10 09:30 PM EDT
"The decision to stop virtually all new energy exploration in the Gulf of Mexico was uninformed and in my view borders on reckless," she said in opening remarks at a field hearing on the moratorium's effect on the local economy.
"Today, thousands of Gulf Coast businesses are fighting their way out of this government-imposed economic disaster that only threatens jobs and businesses," she said, adding the moratorium has "substantially reduced the total amount of economic activity taking place along" the Gulf Coast.
The senator warned the president's decision has made the U.S. more dependent on foreign sources of oil since the country continues to consume 20 million barrels of oil a day.
"[The] U.S. will necessarily increase its oil imports from other countries with far weaker environmental standards and regulatory regimes, such as Nigeria, Angola and Venezuela," she said. "The record shows that these countries suffer significantly more spills at a much, much more frequent rate, causing more harm to the oceans of the world."
Landrieu last month sent a letter to the Obama administration requesting they analyze the economic affect of a moratorium on the Gulf states.
The senator also hosted a hearing on this issue last month, where Louisiana State University professor Joseph Mason pointed out that more than 8,000 jobs, nearly $500 million in wages, and more than $2.1 billion in economic activity would be lost in the Gulf region as a result of Obama's decision, and that a continuation of the moratorium would only make matters worse.
"According to Dr. Mason, if the moratorium lasts longer, some 25,000 jobs could be lost and under the worst-case scenario — a permanent moratorium on all oil and natural-gas production in the Gulf of Mexico — nationwide economic losses would exceed $95 billion and more than 400,000 jobs," Landrieu said, adding, "If the Gulf Coast is going to recover from this nightmare, it will be because of the health and production of the energy that fuels our nation."
Today's hearing comes as reports surface that oil has been found on the Gulf floor. It has also been discovered that oil has been found further east than originally expected. One reports states the substance has been found within 40 miles of the Florida Panhandle.