United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today responded to the announcement by U.S.. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that the Obama Administration is lifting the moratorium on deepwater drilling.
Sen. Landrieu said:
“I applaud the administration for taking a step in the right direction by lifting the deepwater drilling moratorium. Today’s decision is a good start, but it must be accompanied by an action plan to get the entire industry in the Gulf of Mexico back to work. This means that the administration must continue to accelerate the granting of permits in shallow and deep water, and provide greater certainty about the rules and regulations industry must meet. I strongly believe that we can do this safely and swiftly.
“I am not going to release my hold on Jack Lew. Instead, I will take this time to look closely at how BOEM is handling the issuing of permits and whether or not drilling activity in both shallow and deep water is resuming. When Congress reconvenes for the lame duck session next month, I will have had several weeks to evaluate if today’s lifting of the moratorium is actually putting people back to work.”
To view the full letter Sen. Landrieu sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid informing him of her intention to place a hold on the nomination of Jack Lew, please visit:
US Senator David Vitter
– U.S. Sen. David Vitter today issued the following statement regarding the announcement by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar of the lifting of the formal moratorium on deepwater drilling. Vitter also called on Salazar to announce plans to expedite the issuance of drilling permits that would actually allow drilling operations to continue.
"I guess this is movement in the right direction, but it's painfully slow. It's clear that President Obama is going to preside over a continuing de facto moratorium for months or years, with new drilling held back to a fraction of previous levels. I'll keep fighting until real drilling happens and jobs are actually created,” said Vitter.
In late September, Politico quoted Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich as saying, “Even when the moratorium is lifted, you're not going to see drilling come on the next day or the next week.”
Co-chairman of the Oil Spill Commission William Reilly added, “It'll be a de facto moratorium going forward…That is the question and concern many people in the Gulf are beginning to raise with us, and that industry itself has. The combination of new regulations and the changes in some of the requirements, particularly the equipment requirements, the availability of equipment even… might delay presumption of drilling beyond the moratorium lifting itself.”
Additionally, though there is no longer a formal moratorium on shallow-water drilling, over the past several months the pace of new drilling permits issued has fallen from an average of approximately 12 per month to less than one per month. A new study by Southern Methodist University last week demonstrated that the Obama administration’s slowdown in issuing new shallow-water permits has placed nearly 40,000 jobs dependent on the industry in immediate jeopardy.
Congressman Charlie Melancon
Today, in response to Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s announcement that the moratorium on deepwater drilling will be lifted, Congressman Charlie Melancon (LA-03) released the following statement:
“For months now, I have been working to end the job-killing moratorium on offshore drilling” said Rep. Melancon. “I’m glad that Secretary Salazar has finally come to understand that we can drill for oil and gas safely in the Gulf. Our workers need to get back to work on those rigs to provide the jobs and energy security we need. If rigs comply with the regulations that are necessary to keep another BP disaster from ever happening again, they should be allowed to resume work immediately.”
The offshore energy industry is a major economic engine for south Louisiana, providing thousands of jobs and supporting numerous locally-based service companies in Congressman Melancon’s Congressional district.
Congressman Melancon has been pressing the federal government since May to end the moratorium on deep-water drilling and speed up the permitting process for shallow water drilling applications. In July, the House of Representatives passed Congressman Melancon’s amendment to lift the official moratorium on deepwater drilling and end the “de facto” moratorium that is preventing new shallow water permits from being issued. The Melancon Amendment would prevent the Department of the Interior from delaying permits, and instead require decisions to be made within 30 days. The amendment would also require the Department to issue all new safety requirements by the date of the bill’s enactment.
The Melancon Amendment would also immediately lift the deepwater moratorium on offshore drilling for companies that meet the new safety requirements issued by the Department of the Interior in the wake of the explosion. Specifically, the amendment mandates that if an application for a permit to drill complies with the “Notice to Lessees” 5 and 6, complies with any further safety measures recommended by the Secretary, and has completed all required safety inspections, the moratorium will not apply to the drilling application. The Senate failed to pass the Melancon Amendment before adjourning last week for the next six weeks.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu:
Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu released the following statement regarding President Obama’s announcement that the deepwater drilling moratorium placed in the aftermath of the BP oil catastrophe has been lifted:
“We are pleased that the Obama Administration has heeded Louisianians’ calls to end the moratorium. It left an indefinite hold on our local economy.
“For people in Louisiana, both the oil and gas industries and the ecosystem have lived together for generations. And they are vital to our economy.
“We are pleased the Administration has put new safety and spill response protocols in place. We in Louisiana know that you can drill safely.
“We encourage President Obama and the Interior Department to move expeditiously to get our residents back to work on both shallow-water and deepwater drilling.”
“The BP oil catastrophe has left an indelible mark on our way of life after spewing more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf and our wetlands. We still feel the effects every day. BP must make serious, long-term commitments to continue to clean up the remaining oil, fairly compensate all affected, and restore our coast once and for all. President Obama and Congress should continue to hold BP accountable for their actions.
“We thank Senator Mary Landrieu, Congressman Charlie Melancon, and our congressional delegation for working hard on our behalf to end the moratorium.”