HOUMA, La - Gov. Bobby Jindal continued Thursday to lambast the federal government for its response to the BP oil spill, coming to the heart of the Louisiana oil patch to rally workers against the moratorium on deepwater drilling.
Jindal spoke to an estimated 300 hard-hat-wearing workers at the Gulf Island Fabrication yard, where equipment for the offshore industry is built.
He read from an order issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman that blocked the 6-month moratorium declared by the Interior Department, calling the ruling a "rare instance" of common sense from a federal official.
Standing on a riser decked out with red, white and blue bunting and in front of a massive American flag, the governor said the moratorium would kill thousands of Louisiana jobs.
Some of the workers held printed signs declaring "Save American Jobs, Lift the Moratorium."
Houma, a community built on oil and seafood -- both in jeopardy because of the BP spill offshore -- is a largely conservative Cajun city where perceived poor management of the oil spill dovetails with anti-government sentiment.
Not far from where Jindal spoke, a handmade roadside sign dubbed Obama-Reid-Pelosi-Salazar the Four Stooges, apparent reference to President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who declared the moratorium.
Jindal, a first-term Republican, and other state economic and oil industry leaders have said the moratorium would cause drilling companies to send rigs overseas, where their services would bring lucrative fees.
The governor says that would have a ripple effect, causing the elimination of jobs at companies that service the industry and calling into question how rapidly the area could recover after the moratorium is lifted.
Federal officials say the moratorium is necessary to ensure safety and dispute claims of long-term economic impact.
Jindal has been sniping at spill response officials for weeks, claiming too little is being done and that local and state officials are being thwarted in efforts to act against the oil encroaching from the blown-out BP well about 40 miles southeast of the Mississippi River.
He's mobilized the National Guard to work along impacted coastal areas and fought with the Interior Department and Army Corps of Engineers over the building of coastal sand berms to act as barriers against the oil.
The BP-operated rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. It sank two days later, generating the massive oil spill that has reached four states.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)