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Tuesday
Oct122010

Administration Lifts Off-Shore Drilling Moratorium

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is lifting its moratorium on deepwater drilling, the Secretary of the Interior announced Tuesday, but it cautioned that offshore rigs will not resume drilling until operators meet new federal requirements on safety, spill response and blowout containment.

The announcement comes after a six-month ban imposed following the April 20th spill that leaked millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Salazar said he reached the decision after reviewing a report from Michael R. Bromwich of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement .
 
“I have reviewed Director Bromwich’s report many times and it affirms that through our reform agenda, we have made, and continue to make, significant progress in reducing the risks associated with deepwater drilling,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said during a conference call with reporters. “Therefore, based on Director Bromwich’s report, other information we have gathered and intensive deliberations that I have had with him, I have decided that it is now appropriate to lift the suspension on deepwater drilling for those operators that are able to clear the higher bar we have set.”

Salazar said that before drilling may resume in deepwater sites, the CEOs of drilling operators must certify that the drilling rig has complied with all new and existing rules – including new safety rules, worse-case discharge planning requirements, testing protocols and third-party verifications.

The secretary added that with the Maconda Deepwater Horizon well now capped and killed, government oil spill response resources in the Gulf are now freed up and readily available in the event of any new emergency once drilling resumes.

“The truth is there will always be risks associated with deepwater drilling, but we have now reached a point where we have significantly in my view reduced those risks,” Salazar said. “We will still need oil and gas from Gulf of Mexico to power our cars, our homes and our industry, but we can and we will make the drilling of oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico safer than it ever has been.”

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