Hyperbole aside, Barbour has a point. The moratorium is hurting the Gulf economy and in a way that could extend the damage well beyond the point where drilling resumes.
The ban halted work on 33 deep-water rigs, costing the companies the $250,000 to $500,000 a day the rigs typically lease for. Rather than let equipment sit idle, owners are likely to look for drilling jobs in other parts of the world, and it might be years before they return to the Gulf.
Each rig generates 800 to 1,400 jobs. In Louisiana alone, the monthly payroll from oilrigs is $165 million. If the rigs leave for other jobs, only a relative handful of the crew will go with them. The work force will be filled by local hires from wherever the rig winds up.
Each job on the rig supports four support jobs, and those will dry up. The companies that ferry supplies to rigs are asking a federal judge to lift the moratorium, arguing that the administration has offered no proof that continued drilling would be a threat.