Mary Landrieu: Why I put a hold on Jacob Lew's nomination

Wednesday, October 6, 2010; A18

Regarding the Oct. 3 editorial "Budget office held hostage":

Since the day an unprecedented moratorium shut down deep-water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for every company except the one that was drilling relief wells after causing the April oil spill, I have tried in vain to show the Obama administration how its handling of this situation completely missed the mark. In the parlance of the industry, the administration's policy struck a dry hole.

My hold on Jacob Lew's nomination to be director of the Office of Management and Budget comes as a last resort, after months of meetings, hearings and testimony from citizens and experts failed to move the administration from a misguided course. Instead of curtailing "big oil," administration policy has crippled independents and smaller operators. The deep-water moratorium has become a de facto shallow-water drilling ban affecting thousands of small businesses across the gulf, the vast majority of which have nothing to do with drilling.

Despite The Post's claim to the contrary, my hold is absolutely related to Mr. Lew and the position he seeks. When we met some weeks ago, Mr. Lew gave no indication that he understood how devastating the moratorium's effect is on the Gulf Coast economy or how a prolonged blockage of new offshore oil production can affect the national economy.

As the president's top economic adviser, the budget director has the power and responsibility to overturn a detrimental economic policy. Mr. Lew simply repeated the administration's policy stance and refused to consider the economic hardships it is causing. That is not good enough for me or the people I represent.

Mary Landrieu, Washington

The writer is a Democratic senator from Louisiana.

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