I’m now convinced of something I’ve long suspected. The post-Deepwater Horizon moratorium on the issuance of new drilling permits was the right move to make. Now before some of you label me a communist sympathizer, let’s look at the facts.

In April 2010, the Macondo well beneath the Deepwater Horizon blew out and exploded, killing 11 and resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Part of what followed the disaster was a restructuring of the federal agency overseeing the issuance of drilling permits (the Minerals Management Service became the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement) and the release of a set of new rules governing the application and drilling processes involved in offshore drilling. The overhaul took time, which didn’t sit well with many in the Gulf who were use to doing things the way they had been done in the past.

The Obama administration, in the name of safety, enacted a six-month moratorium to investigate, from a regulatory perspective, exactly how it had happened and how to keep it from happening again. It would be almost a year before the first new drilling permit since the accident was issued by BOEM.

In WorkBoat’s cover story in the upcoming July issue, associate editor Kirk Moore reports that the Offshore Marine Service Association’s president at the time, Jim Adams, said as the permit process dragged on that the Obama administration was anti-oil. “The administration has determined that they are going to strangle domestic energy production in the Gulf of Mexico,” Adams said after the accident back in 2010.

I’ve said many times that I am sympathetic to the needs of the oil and gas industry. Many of my friends lost their jobs during the “permitorium” and many others worried for months that they would be the next ones out the door. That’s a hell of a way to have to live. I support the industry.

However, 11 men lost their lives. What’s worse, losing a job or losing your life? Too often since the BP oil spill we’ve heard about how much oil went into the water and the lasting effects of the spill or how much money the oil giant would eventually have to cough up to make this go away. Not often enough do we hear about the families those 11 men left behind.

Did the moratorium on new drilling permits have to last so long? I don’t know. Was there politics involved? I don’t know. What I do know is that according to our July cover story the industry has embraced many new safety regulations and that the Gulf is a much safer place to operate today than it was in 2010.

Ben Billings, the current OMSA president said, “The offshore marine industry is safer than it has ever been.” Whose got a problem with that?  

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.