Energy & Environment

Voices For and Against

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Interview excerpts regarding the Gulf drilling moratorium

In the process of covering the array of protests, town hall meetings, and study announcements surrounding the oil spill, I have had the opportunity to interview a diverse group of individuals. The primary point of concern has been the ongoing moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and I have sought to clarify why people support or oppose the moratorium and how they respond to the concerns of those with opposing views.

Here is an audio montage of those interviewed, to give you a feel for the personalities and opinions at play. The file includes leaders of industry lobbies, a prominent politician, grassroots activists, and a range of environmental advocacy groups. To avoid preferential treatment, I have alternated the audio clips between moratorium opponents and proponents. (For the most part, these interviews were recorded outside and in public settings, so the audio quality is not perfect.)

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Click here to listen to the moratorium montage (approximately 10 minutes)

Those recorded, in the order they appear:

Paul Besse (Volunteer, Louisiana Grassroots Network)

Dan Favre (Campaign organizer, Gulf Restoration Network)

Kindra Arnesen (Fishing company owner and oil spill victim)

Tim Dodt (Member of the Committee to Stop the Gulf Oil Disaster)

Billy Nungesser (President of Plaquemines Parish)

Dan Thelen (Member of the Committee to Stop the Gulf Oil Disaster)

Don Briggs (President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association)

Jordan Macha (Associate Field Organizer, Sierra Club)

Jim Funk (President and CEO, Louisiana Restaurant Association)

Rachel Guillory (Gulf States Organizer, Oceana)

For more background on the moratorium, read the related articles below from the Pelican Institute.

Fergus Hodgson is the capitol bureau reporter with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. He can be contacted at, and one can follow him on twitter.

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  • ETEE

    It is an incontravertable fact that the Gulf of Mexico naturally seep’s from existing sub-sea formations, between 21,000,000 and 41,000,000 gallons of oil and hydrates per year.

    According to PBS, utilizing the Department of Energy Spill Rate, the Macondo Well has spilled 92,340,117 gallons. That would be the equivalent of 27 months of normal Natural Seeps, prior to mitigation.

    I am using the higher Natural Seep figure, just as the Department of Energy utilizes the higher Macondo Spill rate.

    Considering mitigation techniques utilized, an as yet uncalculated quantity of the release was Natural Gas Hydrates, which vaporizes into the atmosphere.

    An as yet uncalculated quantity was burned in the initial explosion and fire and, subsequently, in fire booms. An as yet uncalculated amount was collected by booms, vacuum barges and skimmers.

    An additional unknown amount of the Oil was vaporized by the sun and an additional amount of the sunken oil was consumed by microbes and other sea life.

    No one has ever performed a Natural Seep study prior to Offshore Drilling. Reality dictates that the 30,000 to 40,000 Offshore Wells that have been drilled since 1947, by lowering formation pressures, have lowered the original Natural Seeps in the Gulf of Mexico by an unknown magnitude, as the continental shelf Shallow Water formations, being closer to the surface, would have been more prone to seep.

    Additionally, the Department of Energy numbers of the Macondo release were based on extrapolated pressures that are now known to be lower by thousands of pounds per square inch gage.

    With these much lower pressures, the amount of Oil released would likewise be much lower than that speculated by DOE.