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TheStreet Open House

Obama Drill Ban May End, But Drilling Delays Won't: Poll

Stocks in this article: BP HAL RIG NE APC TOT

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The post mortems on the BP (BP - Get Report) oil spill have begun, but there's still no clear answer about when life for the oil business in the Gulf of Mexico will return to healthy conditions.

On Monday, President Obama's point man in the Gulf of Mexico for the BP oil spill, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, said during testimony in Washington D.C. that allowing the company responsible for an oil spill to be in charge of its cleanup creates a potential conflict of interest.

"We need to really think about what we mean by the concept of responsible party and how we want that to work in the future," Allen told the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. "Something we might want to consider is the creation of a qualified individual that would represent the industry, oversee the response, and have access to the resources."

Allen's arguments are logical enough, but how about potential conflicts of interest at the level of the federal government, when it comes to issuing reports on the success of the oil spill containment and cleanup, and the minimal economic impact from the federal moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico waters?

Recently, the White House issued two reports on the BP oil spill -- mind you, an environment crisis that at one point was sinking Obama's poll numbers almost as much as the state of the U.S. economy. The first White House report claimed that almost all of the oil from the BP oil spill had disappeared from the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Independent scientists criticized the report, and said when you "do the math" it doesn't add up to all the oil that was spewed by the runaway BP Macondo well into the Gulf of Mexico.

The second White House report claimed that there had been minimal job losses as a result of the federal ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf, in contrast to the dire predictions from the oil and gas industry at the time the drilling moratorium was enacted. This claim was countered, not surprisingly, by executives in the oil and gas industry who say that a simple tally of jobs lost so far as a result of the drilling ban does not accurately represent the long road back to normal drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, a process that could take years.

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