U.S. Issues New Moratorium On Offshore Drilling

There is a new moratorium on deep-water offshore drilling.
There is a new moratorium on deep-water offshore drilling. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made the announcement Monday, arguing that a pause is still needed to ensure that oil and gas companies implement safety measures to reduce risks -- and are prepared to handle spills.

The Obama administration is issuing a new moratorium on deep-water offshore drilling and it's no longer based on water depth.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made the announcement Monday, arguing that a pause is still needed to ensure that oil and gas companies implement safety measures to reduce risks -- and are prepared to handle spills.

The new moratorium will last through Nov. 30. Unlike the last moratorium, which applied to waters of more than 500 feet, the new one applies to any deep-water floating facility with drilling activities.

Last week, a federal appeals court rejected the government's effort to halt the approval of any new permits for deep-water projects and suspended drilling on 33 exploratory wells.

This time, Salazar went to greater lengths to justify the temporary drilling ban. He pointed to shortcomings with blowout preventers that deepwater drillers rely on, and growing evidence of the industry's "inability" to contain a big spill.

The government is reaching out to oil companies and others for recommendations about how to make deepwater drilling less dangerous. But the American Petroleum Association, which represents the oil industry, called the new order unnecessary and said it was shortsighted to shut down a major part of the nation's energy lifeline and endanger tens of thousands of jobs.

A White House spokesman said President Obama wants to resume deepwater drilling, "once it's safe."

Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

blog comments powered by Disqus