Under intense pressure from the oil industry and Gulf state politicians, the White House has announced that it will lift the moratorium on deepwater drilling that it issued after BP's Deepwater Horizon drill exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April. Gulf states, whose economies are inextricably linked to drilling, have protested that the halt to new drilling projects has only compounded the economic carnage of this summer's oil spill.
Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu registered her fury by blocking the appointment of Jack Lew to the position of White House budget director until the moratorium is lifted. In a press conference this morning, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs did not credit Landrieu for the decision to lift the ban, though a more comprehensive announcement is soon to come:
The process is coming to its natural end," Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Tuesday morning. "I believe the process will wrap up very soon." The Interior Department later sent reporters an e-mail announcing that it would hold a telephone news conference at 1 p.m. to discuss the resumption of deep-water drilling.
The moratorium was supposed to run through Nov. 30, but the administration has been working on changes designed to improve safety, oversight and environmental protection standards. Nearly two weeks ago, the Interior Department issued new rules governing areas like well casing and cementing, blowout preventers, safety certification, emergency response and worker training.
Read the full story at the New York Times.