Jindal requests lifting of moratorium, gets no response

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal again sought an end to President Barack Obama’s moratorium on deepwater oil drilling as he met yesterday with two members of the president’s commission investigating the BP oil spill: former Florida Sen. Bob Graham and National Geographic Society executive Terry Garcia.

He got no promises.

Graham said two issues pressed by Jindal, dealing with seafood and coastal restoration, were part of the commission’s mandate.

State officials have been pushing for a rigorous testing program, funded by BP, that would renew the suppressed demand for Gulf seafood by building public confidence in its safety. They also want faster action on programs to restore Louisiana’s eroding coastal wetlands.

“The moratorium is not in our sweet spot of assignment,” Graham said.

Jindal and coastal officials attending a news conference after the meeting acknowledged reports that the moratorium has yet to cost the thousands of jobs projected by state officials. But that remains a danger if the moratorium remains in place much longer, they said, adding that many jobs in businesses serving the industry have been lost or affected, and some jobs have been moved to other states or nations.

“We’re seeing reassignments. We’re seeing transfers. We’re seeing reductions in pay,” said Charlotte Randolph, president of Lafourche Parish.

A report last week by the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center said the drilling ban, scheduled to expire Nov. 30, may no longer be needed.

The moratorium allowed time for both industry and government to make offshore drilling safer, the report said. The oil spill commission had asked the center to look into the wisdom of using a moratorium to prevent spills in the aftermath of the BP disaster.

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