Gulf Oil Drill Ban Affects U.S. 23K Jobs

FILE - A flock of pelicans fly over black crude oil in Caminada Pass at Elmer's Island on the Louisiana gulf coast in this July 9, 2010 file photo. The oil is from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill about 50 miles away in the Gulf of Mexico. Biologists say oil has smeared at least 300-400 pelicans and hundreds of terns in the largest seabird nesting area along the Louisiana coast _ marking a sharp and sudden escalation in wildlife harmed by BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill. (AP Photo/Chuck Cook, File)
AP Photo
A six-month ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico would directly put more than 9,000 people out of work and indirectly affect another 14,000 jobs, according to a memo from the nation's top drilling regulator.

The federal document, which weighed the economic impact and alternatives to the ban, was sent to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on July 10 by Michael Bromwich.

Salazar issued a moratorium in June, but it was struck down by a federal judge in New Orleans after oil and gas drilling interests said it wasn't justified following the Gulf oil spill.

Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

The Obama administration issued a new moratorium July 12 — three days after the memo — that stressed new evidence of safety concerns. The White House hopes the revised ban will pass muster with the courts.

The moratoriums were put in place following the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion April 20 that killed 11 people. Millions of gallons (liters) of oil spilled into the Gulf after the rig sank.

Some energy experts, engineering consultants and Gulf Coast leaders have joined Big Oil to ask Salazar to change his mind. Drilling was safe before the BP spill, they said, and Gulf communities that depend on the industry were suffering unfairly.

Interior Department spokesman Matt Lee-Ashley said the agency has been very clear that the economic impacts of the moratorium would need to be addressed and noted the Obama administration secured an agreement with BP to set up a $100 million fund for affected rig workers.

"In light of the current risks of deepwater drilling as illustrated by the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill and the potential impacts of another spill, the moratorium is necessary and appropriate. With that said, the worst-case economic impact estimates from three months ago have not been realized. The reality on the ground suggests that the impacts are less than we initially projected as a potential worst-case scenario," Lee-Ashley said.