U.S. Chamber Urges Fifth Circuit to Uphold Halt to Offshore Drilling Moratorium

Thursday, July 1, 2010 - 8:00pm

Economic Losses from the Moratorium Would be ‘Staggering,’ Donohue Says

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Chamber Litigation Center (NCLC) today filed a brief on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which was joined by 29 other Gulf Coast chambers of commerce and industry groups and U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to uphold a federal judge’s decision to halt the six-month moratorium on offshore exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. The case is Hornbeck Offshore Services, Inc. v. Salazar, et al.

“The economic losses inflicted by the moratorium are nothing short of staggering,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber. “Every day the moratorium remains in effect, the drilling rigs sit idle—which will force companies to redeploy their assets, sending jobs and revenue to foreign waters. And every day the moratorium remains in effect, American workers lose millions of dollars in wages.”

Although the repercussions of the moratorium are national in scope, nowhere are the hardships more apparent than in the Gulf Coast region, where the U.S. Chamber has been on the ground assessing the economic impact. As the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy has pointed out, the moratorium has halted both deep and shallow water exploration in the Gulf, which could lead to thousands of lost jobs and billions of lost government revenue in the coming months.

“Operations in the Gulf of Mexico support more than 150,000 jobs and account for more than 30 percent of U.S. domestic oil production,” said Donohue. “For that reason, the moratorium is not just a threat to the Gulf region’s economy, it’s a threat to our nation’s economy, energy security, and competitiveness. Oil that is produced in the Gulf is oil that America does not have to import from foreign countries, which will increase our energy security risk.”

On June 23, a federal judge lifted the administration’s moratorium on offshore exploration, explaining that the “the administration acted arbitrarily and capriciously in issuing the moratorium.” The administration appealed the judge’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The Chamber’s amicus brief defends the judge’s decision to halt the moratorium, arguing that the administration failed to adhere to the rule of law and abandoned evidence-based rulemaking.

“Businesses small and large depend upon the government adhering to the rule of law,” said Donohue. “According to Judge Feldman, the agencies have failed to articulate any good reason for suspending all drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Joining the Chamber on the amicus brief are U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, the Ascension Chamber of Commerce, Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Bayou La Batre Area Chamber of Commerce, Business Council of Alabama, Greater Houston Partnership, Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce, Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Greater New Orleans Inc., Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, Harvey Canal Industrial Association, Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce, Lafourche Chamber of Commerce, Louisiana Association of Business & Industry, Louisiana Association of Chambers of Commerce Executives, Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, Mississippi Associated Builders & Contractors, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Natchitoches Area (LA) Chamber of Commerce, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, Plaquemines Association of Business and Industry, River Region Chamber of Commerce, Ruston Lincoln (LA) Chamber of Commerce, Southern Crop Production Assn., St. Charles Parish, St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce, East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Louisiana Chamber of Commerce, and the Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce.

The amicus brief is available at:


NCLC is the public policy law firm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that advocates fair treatment of business in the courts and before regulatory agencies.

The mission of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy is to unify policymakers, regulators, business leaders, and the American public behind a common sense energy strategy to help keep America secure, prosperous, and clean. Through policy development, education, and advocacy, the Institute is building support for meaningful action at the local, state, national, and international levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

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