Shallow-water rig workers and those in industries unrelated to oil drilling are losing their jobs and being denied access to relief funds because of what Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) calls a “de facto shallow-water drilling ban.”

Nearly $1 billion is going to Gulf Coast industries that are suffering in the aftermath of the BP oil spill, but many workers losing their jobs due to the drilling ban, imposed by the Obama administrations’ Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, are not eligible. BP’s $20 billion relief fund for those affected by the Gulf oil spill does not cover workers that have lost their jobs due to the moratorium.

BP created a separate Rig Worker Assistance Fund with a $100 million fund for workers of select deep-water rigs that lost their jobs, leaving out workers on rigs that have moved out of the Gulf and shallow-water rig workers altogether. Shallow-water rigs are not banned from drilling in the Gulf, but have had more stringent requirements placed on them for obtaining permits to drill.
As a result, there’s been a decline in the number of shallow-water rigs in operation. Only 53 new wells have been permitted so far this year as opposed to 96 last year. Shallow-water rig owners are faced with keeping workers on the payroll while waiting for permits at great costs or cutting those workers’ jobs.

Other industries that are not involved in drilling, but depend on rig workers as customers, are also suffering from the “de facto shallow-water drilling ban.” They’re also not eligible for relief funds. Gulf Coast businesses are left in limbo on relief from this moratorium, but they shouldn’t have been put in this position in the first place.

There is no need for this moratorium. It is not necessary to prevent another disaster and only exacerbates the economic toll on residents of the Gulf Coast. Landrieu recently wrote, “In the parlance of the industry, the administration’s policy struck a dry hole.”

In lieu of the administration’s obstinacy, Landrieu placed a hold on Obama’s nomination of Jacob Lew to replace Peter Orszag as the Office of Management and Budget director. Landrieu was not satisfied with Lew’s and the Obama administration’s understanding of the economic effect of the moratorium on the Gulf Coast and the need to end it.