Louisiana Sen. David Vitter on Sunday warned that the Obama administration's offshore drilling moratorium could end up costing more jobs than the BP oil spill.
The Republican senator, one of several local officials who's been outspoken in opposition to the suspension on Gulf drilling, told "Fox News Sunday" that 140,000 jobs or more are on the line as the administration continues to fight for a six-month drilling ban.
"That hasn't materialized yet, but it's quickly beginning to," Vitter said.
The Obama administration last week issued a revised plan to halt deep-water offshore drilling after a federal appeals court struck down the original six-month moratorium. The administration claims it needs time to review safety measures to ensure there are no more disasters like the deadly Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that triggered the BP leak on April 20.
But industry officials and Gulf Coast lawmakers say local workers can't take that kind of hit and that by the time the ban is over, some companies will have moved their business overseas.
"It's already been a huge job killer. If it continues six months or more, it will kill more jobs here than the oil [spill] itself," Vitter said. "This could be a long-term economic hit."
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said he's all for improved safety regulations, but that it shouldn't take six months to figure them out.
"We just can't take that kind of blow to the economy," he said, urging the administration to "fast track" the process.