The $100 million fund created to help oil rig workers idled by a federal moratorium on deep-water drilling is finding very few takers. The fund was political window-dressing to begin with, but now it seems clear that the moratorium has not, in fact, had a major impact on unemployment in the region. A new federal report also supports that claim.
The AP reports: “… with 9 days left to apply, a spokesman for the charity running the program told The Associated Press today that only 356 people have come forward. Up to 9,000 people had been expected to seek grants of $3,000 to $30,000. The charity says it turns out that many rig workers are being kept on the job by their employers, despite the moratorium.”
In other words, what happened is exactly what supporters of the moratorium said would happen. What did not happen was the dire unemployment predicted by the “drill, baby, drill” crowd. Surprise, surprise.
The debate has always been whether safety issues should trump a big hit to the Gulf jobs market. We’ve supported the moratorium on this blog for months with the feeling that safety concerns should be the highest priority – and that includes, of course, protecting rig workers as well as the environment.
With so much fund money left over, says the AP, the idea is to have a second round of grants – this time to workers and businesses that support deepwater rigs, such as people on supply boats.
See the AP story here: http://blog.al.com/wire/2010/09/100_million_at_the_ready_but_n.html
© Smith Stag, LLC 2010 – All Rights Reserved