Offshore Drilling Moratorium 2.0: Will It Stand?

Tweaked language won't appease Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu, for one

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After a federal judge stuck down the first moratorium on offshore oil drilling, the Obama administration has released a revised version. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the new moratorium reflects the growing evidence of the oil industry's "inability" to prevent another catastrophic oil spill. So what's the new ban all about and how are people reacting?

  • Ban Has Different Language, writes Christopher Webber at AOL News: "[The] new moratorium that is not based on water depth but rather on the type of rig or floating facility used for deep-sea drilling activities. If it survives legal scrutiny, the ban will remain in effect until Nov. 30."
  • Oil Industry Will Remain Upset, writes Bryan Walsh at Time:

The new moratorium--which the Interior Department said was based on new evidence regarding concerns over the effectiveness of blowout preventers and the worry that the BP oil spill has stretched industry's ability to respond to any further accidents--will focus on specific safety questions. If drilling rig operators can prove that their blowout preventers can pass stringent tests, that they can quickly shut down an out-of-control well and that they have the ability to respond to a spill, then they can drill.

The problem is that--as BP is amply demonstrating and as other oil industry executives have said--the industry can't really shut down an out-of-control well, so it's unlikely that the 33 wells where drilling was halted under the original moratorium will suddenly come back to life. Unsurprisingly, then, the industry remains unhappy with the rule.

  • It's About Time, writes Truth Dig: "Finding a way to push this one through might be useful...given, you know, the whole Gulf of Mexico object lesson." Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass) agrees. "This moratorium will reduce oil spill risk while the Gulf will continue to produce oil. As new laws and safety measures are put into place on these few dozen rigs, 97 percent of the manned rigs in the Gulf will still be allowed to work."
  • Take It Back, Obama, writes Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu in a statement: "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... 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."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.