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Democrats Should Stop Politicizing Small Businesses on the Gulf Coast

Guest blog post by Thomas Benton

I am headed to Washington DC this week to let my representatives in Congress know the impacts of their actions on working men and women in Alabama. Many in the country assume that the offshore drilling moratorium is only affecting big oil companies who can afford to lose a few million dollars, but nothing could be farther from the truth. I work for Marine Industrial and Supply, a small business which specializes in providing products and services to oil rigs so they can function properly. With the president’s ongoing ban on drilling, he has effectively banned job growth and wage earning at my employer, and for many others dependant on the oil and gas sector. 

During their holiday speeches, our elected officials, both local and federal, have emphasized their focus on jobs as we begin to slowly recover from the recession. In light of the BP oil spill, it seems that the focus, still on jobs, has shifted from creating them to eliminating them. This is very concerning for me, since the longer this moratorium lasts, the more likely it becomes that I will lose my job. In Alabama, those of us who work with the oil and gas sector rely on drilling, which has a near spotless record in the Gulf over the last 40 years, to put food on our tables. With the swipe of a pen, those in Washington have threatened my ability to provide for my family.  

What those in Washington seem to have lost track of is the extent we depend on oil and gas, and what will be the consequences if we regulate and tax our domestic producers to death. When campaigning this year, our political leaders will fly on planes, ride in cars, and sit in air conditioned rooms, all made possible by oil and natural gas. Without domestic production, I highly doubt that campaigns will be called off to lessen our reliance on foreign oil. Instead, jobs will simply be transferred overseas, where production continues. This would be devastating for people who rely on this sector for employment, including me and thousands like me in Alabama, In DC I plan to make my voice heard, and let our leaders know that my job matters

Thomas Benton is a marine surveyor who works for a small business in Alabama.

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