WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will issue a new revised moratorium on offshore drilling Monday.
Two administration officials have told The Associated Press of the plans. Both requested anonymity so as not to pre-empt the official announcement.
Last week, a federal appeals court rejected the government’s effort to restore its initial offshore deepwater drilling moratorium, which halted the approval of any new permits for deepwater projects and suspended drilling on 33 exploratory wells. It was first rejected last month by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldm
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at the time that he would issued a new, refined moratorium.
The administration says it wants to ensure that deepwater drilling is safe.
UPDATE: Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu has released a statement on the decision that reads in part:
“About an hour ago, Secretary Salazar announced ‘new deepwater drilling suspensions.’ Unfortunately, this new plan does not address many of the concerns expressed by the experts, the court system, and families and businesses along the Gulf Coast.
“I am particularly alarmed by the Department of the Interior’s continued insistence that allowing deepwater drilling to move forward ‘would pose a threat of serious, irreparable, or immediate harm or damage to the marine, coastal, and human environment.’ That claim contradicts testimony given by drilling experts and ignores the history of oil and gas operations in the Gulf.
“If this Commission and our nation are to learn the right lessons from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, we must put this accident into perspective. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, more than 42,000 wells have been drilled in the Gulf from 1947 to 2009, producing 16.5 billion barrels of oil. It is important to note that in the last 10 years, non-hurricane related spills only totaled about 7,000 barrels. Right now, this rouge well in the Gulf is gushing an entire decades’ worth of oil spills every six hours.
While more effective regulations and greater transparency are a must, the record is clear that the Deepwater Horizon accident is the exception rather than the rule.
“As residents of this working coast, we want – as much as anyone – for this drilling to be safe for our people and our environment. But we also know full well what a prolonged suspension of deepwater drilling until November 30th will mean for hundreds of oil service companies, other small businesses, and families across the region. In today’s announcement, the Administration has left the door open to resume drilling operations sooner, but Gulf Coast businesses and investors still lack the certainty they need to move forward with future plans.
“Whether you call it a moratorium, a suspension, or a pause, the result will still be a substantial loss of jobs. Even the revised moratorium will force thousands of hard-working Louisianians and others along the Gulf Coast into the unemployment lines.
“I strongly urge this Commission to take the quick and decisive action to recommend immediately lifting the moratorium to save our businesses, our economy and our way of life.
“Secretary Salazar’s announcement today seems to indicate the new suspensions require the collection and analysis of key evidence before deepwater drilling can start again. The work of your Commission will be a critical element of that process, which means the Commission must complete its work in a more expedited manner.
“We know what these suspensions will do to Gulf Coast families and to our economy. Yet, it seems that the Administration has ignored this data and failed to conduct its own economic analysis.
“Please consider that idling the 33 deepwater rigs currently permitted to drill in the deepwater Gulf would immediately impact employment for as many as 46,000 crewmen, deck hands, engineers, welders, ROV operators, caterers, helicopter pilots, and others who operate and service these vessels.
“That is the equivalent of laying off every firefighter and police officer in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.