Morgan Freeman supports drilling moratorium that has crippled Gulf businesses with fear

It isn’t enough that Morgan Freeman is opposed to Mississippi’s “mule headed farmers.” Now he supports a drilling moratorium in the Gulf as well.

Actors Ted Danson and Morgan Freeman spoke at a news conference Tuesday aboard a vessel that will spend the next few weeks at sea researching the BP oil gusher’s effects on marine habitats.

The two celebrities also voiced their support for a moratorium on offshore drilling.

Gov. Haley Barbour and others have argued a moratorium on offshore drilling would eliminate many Gulf Coast jobs, but Danson told the Sun Herald he believes those could be replaced if the government would place emphasis on manufacturing clean, renewable energy technologies here.

Workers are losing their jobs today and the answer these Hollywood elitists propose is to put “emphasis” on “renewable energy technologies.” Who will feed these workers’ families in the meantime? How can Mississippi repair its economy in the meantime?

Thousands of small businesses along the Gulf Coast could be crippled by a federal ban on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, witnesses told lawmakers Tuesday.

The moratorium “is creating a financial disaster for the Gulf Coast states and our nation,” Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, testified at a hearing of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.

The committee held a hearing on the impact of the administration’s six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

At least 16,580 businesses along the Gulf Coast, almost all of them small, could be harmed by the ban, according to a Dun & Bradstreet analysis. The businesses employ 153,502 workers, most of them in Louisiana and Texas, the analysis found. For example, it said 780 businesses employing almost 10,500 people in Lafayette Parish could suffer.

Briggs said the ban could mean a loss of more than 17,500 jobs in Louisiana.

The number of rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico has declined from 55 three months ago to 13, said Briggs, whose group represents 1,100 oil and gas companies.

The ban also created a “stifling effect on all operations in the Gulf, including shallow water operations” that were not supposed to be hurt by the policy, Briggs said.

Many companies are laying off workers and operating under a cloud of uncertainty, Briggs said. “The jobs are going down, literally thousands as we speak,” he said.

Mississippi businesses were looking forward to a comeback after Hurricane Katrina and the recession, said Kimberly Nastasi, head of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce.

Nastasi said the moratorium, which she called “manmade,” hurts businesses beyond the oil and gas industry. Mississippi relies heavily on tourism, but Louisiana residents aren’t crossing the borders as much, Nastasi said.

“All of the industries on the Gulf Coast are interconnected,” she said. “… We’re crippled with fear.”

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