Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) member Elizabeth Ames Jones on Friday joined a chorus of those who are blasting the President Obama's decision not to open new areas in the offshore to exploration.

The administration on Wednesday rescinded a decision made in March to possibly allow offshore drilling in the gassy eastern Gulf of Mexico and portions of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts because of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy (see Daily GPI, Dec. 2).

Jones, a former state legislator and former chair of the RRC, which regulates the state oil and gas industry, did not spare her criticism.

"Our President has proven himself to be the 'Flip-Flopper-in-Chief,'" she said. "Last March the president announced it was time to consider drilling in the very areas he has now banned from exploration. This bait-and-switch stops any prospect for exploration in federal waters off the coast of Virginia, which just eight months ago the president and Interior Secretary [Ken Salazar] considered for a lease sale that would have taken place next year.

"Either the president and Secretary Salazar are simply ignorant about the time, technology and effort it takes to put a drillbit on the ocean floor or this announcement exposes their pandering to eco-political constituencies opposed to using oil and natural gas to fuel America."

The revised policy "is not based on the facts made available to him last March. They are putting politics before jobs and revenue for our country."

Jones, like others who blasted the reversal, said it would take years before new wells would be drilled in the closed areas, even if producers were allowed to invest in offshore leases.

"Our president needs to understand that just because companies might pay millions of dollars to the federal government in lease bonuses, rentals, and to engineering and service companies for things like mapping and seismic, it does not mean all the areas will be considered economically viable for them to drill," she said. "It is a long and expensive process for companies, but that is the up-front financial risk they take to explore and produce American energy."

The "nation's empty coffers could use the billions of dollars that could be raised over the next six years, and we could certainly use the approximately 57,000 new jobs that won't be created because our president can't stay the course."

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