Austin –Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones expressed cautious optimism after Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar’s announcement to lift the offshore drilling moratorium yesterday. After the announcement, she participated in a conference call organized by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) with both DOI and BOEMRE staff and fellow state and national officials. The call was organized to give parties who had been involved with the BOEMRE fact-finding forums across the nation to vet their concerns and to offer information to the BOEMRE staff as they seek to implement the new safety regulations for deep water drilling. On September 7, 2010, Jones was a member of an advisory panel at a BOEMRE forum held in Houston on deep water drilling safety, oil spill response and preparedness, workplace safety, and well control and containment.
Jones mirrored other officials’ concerns when she acknowledged the limited resources faced by the new offshore regulatory agency. She reiterated her earlier offer to use the Railroad Commission of Texas’ expertise as a template for energy regulatory management.
Commissioner Jones is concerned that the announcement to lift this moratorium is not going to bring the industry back to full throttle. “The real questions are how soon can the deepwater drilling industry get back up and running and when will more shallow water operations begin to come back online?” The lackluster response from the newly reformed regulatory agency, BOEMRE, was that it will work diligently to get operators certified under their new regulations and issue permits; however, BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich’s staff cited “limited resources” as a possible deterrent to issuing permits immediately.
In response to questions on the timing permit issuance in light of an end to the moratorium, Director Bromwich told reporters, “It will clearly not be tomorrow and it will not be next week. My sense is we will have permits approved by the end of the year, but how much before the end of the year I can’t say and how many before the end of the year I can’t say.”
Jones affirmed, “While I am glad this day has come, it has taken too long to end a moratorium that was shot down by federal courts due to it being ‘arbitrary and capricious.’ To force economic pain upon our country is a travesty; the only path to redemption is to provide this agency with the resources it needs to ensure that permits are issued in a timely and brisk manner so that the moratorium is, in every sense of the word, over.”
Elizabeth Ames Jones, 53, was elected to the Texas Legislature in a landslide-upset victory over a Republican incumbent in 2000. In 2005, she was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to a vacancy on the Texas Railroad Commission and was overwhelmingly elected to serve a six-year term in 2006. Jones is a staunch advocate for the responsible production of our country’s energy resources, tort reform, and limited government, and she lends her insight and voice to a wide range of conservative issues in Texas and nationally. Her com