Owners of small oil businesses from the Gulf Coast said the halt on exploratory deep-water drilling means further unemployment for all workers.
Cornyn said the moratorium – imposed in May by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after the April blowout of the BP well – will worsen the country's 9.5 percent national unemployment rate. This shortsighted moratorium,set to end Nov. 30,will have long-lasting effects,he said.
“A smarter way is one that protects the environment and the people in it,while it doesn't kill jobs at the same time,” Cornyn said. “We need to be using American energy … not energy from abroad.”
Former Rep. John Peterson,R-Pa.,said that,if exploration and production of oil and gas does not occur in the Gulf soon,contractors will move to other parts of the world,leaving costly effects for all Americans – not just for those who are unemployed.
“Oil and gas and all forms of energy are to our economy what blood is flowing through our bodies,” Peterson said. “The Obama administration is choking the artery that provides affordable,available energy to America. … When they do that,our economy could have a heart attack.”
The U.S. imports about 60 percent of its oil and gas energy.
More than 50 workers from Texas,Mississippi,Alabama and Louisiana gathered on the Capitol grounds in Gulf-like steaming heat,holding blue signs that said “My Job Matters.”
Stephen Heitzman,president of Phoenix Exploration Co. in Houston,was one of them.
Heitzman's 4-year-old company has 50 employees – 35 in Texas and 15 in Louisiana. The freeze on oil drilling has slowed down all activities and shut down some businesses in the Gulf of Mexico. He said he was here to fight for his 50 employees who may lose their jobs as a result of the moratorium.
“We are all here to support the effort to let our congressmen know that the activities of one company shouldn't affect everyone else in the same industry,” he said. “The United States lives on the energy we all provide because we are an energy-based economy.”
The American Energy Alliance organized the rally. It is the grassroots arm of the Institute for Energy Research. Both groups favor less government involvement in the energy business.
Thomas Pyle,AEA president,said he hopes the rally will force policy changes for oil workers.
“We are here to help shine the light on real impacts this is having on small businesses,” Pyle said. “We all pay at the pump,energy is embedded in everything and policy makers need to see the long-term impact this will make on our economy.”