WASHINGTON – United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair, Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today held a field hearing entitled “The Deepwater Drilling Moratorium: An Economic Disaster for Louisiana’s Small Businesses?” in Lafayette, Louisiana. Testifying before the Committee were elected officials and business owners from a broad range of industries that are being impacted by the Administration’s deepwater drilling moratorium.

“Some 121 days ago, the Deepwater Horizon explosion took the lives of 11 men and sent an estimated 4.9 million of barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf, onto our shores, and into our marshes,” Senator Landrieu said. “Today, thousands of Gulf Coast businesses are fighting their way out of this government imposed economic disaster that not only threatens jobs and businesses – including oil and gas field services, transportation, and fabrication companies – but also a way of life, just as surely as the massive oil spill does, and perhaps even more. The Administration’s decision to halt drilling activity did more than threaten the livelihoods of thousands of rig workers and oil service crews; it substantially reduced the total amount of economic activity taking place along the Gulf Coast and Texas.

“An expert from the research firm Dun & Bradstreet, estimated that in Lafayette Parish alone, 780 businesses employing close to 10,500 people could be negatively affected. Businesses here in Lafayette are some of the hardest hit by the moratorium, which is why I chose to hold this important field hearing here. I remain committed, along with Members of Congress from the Gulf Coast, to get this message out so that some relief can be put into place for the thousands of businesses being impacted.”

With much of the focus being placed on the idle rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and the thousands of workers out of a job, this hearing focused on the many small businesses, in Louisiana and the rest of the country, that are struggling to stay afloat with drilling brought to a sudden halt. These industries that are being indirectly impacted range from bankers to restaurant owners, many of whom are fighting to keep their doors open under optimal circumstances.

Last month, Senator Landrieu sent a letter to the Obama Administration, requesting they conduct an economic analysis on the impact the moratorium has on businesses along the Gulf Coast and the rest of the country. In that same letter, Senator Landrieu indicated that the Small Business Committee would hold another hearing on the drilling moratorium when the Senate returns in early September. To view a copy of the letter, please click here.

At today’s hearing, Senator Landrieu acknowledged the presence of Mark Doms, Chief Economist at the Department of Commerce. Mr. Doms will serve as a lead official preparing the economic analysis on the drilling moratorium. Senator Landrieu invited him to attend to hear testimony directly from business owners and officials from Louisiana.

A complete list of witnesses, as well as copies of their testimonies, can be viewed by clicking here.

A copy of Senator Landrieu’s opening statement can be viewed by clicking here.