Thursday, June 17, 2010

Business Leaders Announce Four-Pronged "Call To Action" On Oil Disaster, Including "Mitigation" of President Barack Obama's Deep Water Drilling Moratorium

Posted By on Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 7:39 PM

Area business and political leaders joined together at the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau on St. Charles Avenue this afternoon to announce what they are hoping will be a four-pronged call-to action — a unified message on their favored strategy to deal with the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The four strategies include this morning's request made by Mayor Mitch Landrieu for $75 million in tourism marketing dollars from BP.

The other three strategies are: firstly, to expedite decision making in the cleanup process by streamlining the coastguard's command structure; secondly, to "mitigate the impact" of the six-month deep water drilling moratorium imposed by President Barack Obama by allowing oil companies to continue operations right up to the "pay zone," but not actually extract any oil; and lastly, to accelerate the royalties paid to Louisiana from oil extraction, so that they are delivered now, and not in 2017, to pay for coastal restoration.

The "Move Forward Now" strategy was announced by Greg Rusovich, chairman of the Business Council of Greater New Orleans and the River Region; Steve Perry of the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau; and regional business and political leaders.

"It’s quite clear that the decision making has been slow, overly bureaucratic, and has not moved with the type of speed and urgency that we believe a spill of this magnitude requires," Rusovich says of the recommendation to improve the cleanup command structure. "We’re urging that the command structure be vastly improved, and to shorten the timeframe when requests are put forward. We’re urging that all national and international assets be immediately deployed and tested in the field, not in the conference room.

"What we’re finding is that there’s a lot of good ideas out there but there’s a bureaucratic process when the coastguards review those resources," Rusovich continues. "They go through their process of assessing and studying and checking, and then BP has to study the same process. What we’re saying is, look, credible resources are being offered, let’s test them in the field, and if they work, BP’s gotta pay for them.

"On the moratorium, we’re saying mitigate the impact of the moratorium," Rusovich says. "What we’re proposing on deep water drilling is that the drillers be allowed to drill up until the pay zone — where the oil is, but extract any of the oil until the moratorium is over. We’re also saying take the shallow water safety issues, there are six requirements in place currently, called the NLP 2010 safety regulations, and move those into deep water. We’re also saying to place Federal inspectors on each of the rigs that would have the authority to shut down those rigs. We think those ideas give the safety that’s required."

"These companies will move to Brazil and Nigeria where the contracts are," says Rusovich — of the downside risk of Obama's moratorium. "They won’t stay here, so this will let them continue their operation and will keep them here."

Updates from the press conference itself will be up shortly.

—Matt Davis

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