Landrieu Presses Salazar on 6-Month Deepwater Drilling Moratorium

June 10, 2010

Senator questions why Obama Administration ignored advice from eight experts who opposed the moratorium.

WASHINGTON — During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today pressed Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary, Ken Salazar, to explain the Administration’s decision to place a six-month moratorium on all deepwater drilling operations.

Sen. Landrieu questioned why DOI ignored advice from eight experts who helped prepare Secretary Salazar’s May 27 report to President Obama outlining safety recommendations in the wake of the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon.

“In the appendix of the May 27 report, it lists the names of 15 experts that you consulted with,” Sen. Landrieu told Secretary Salazar. “I received a letter yesterday from eight of them who say they disagree with your decision to impose the six-month moratorium. In their words, the report does not justify the moratorium as written and the moratorium will not contribute measurably to increase safety and it will have an immediate and long-term economic effect.”

Among the recommendations in that report was the six-month moratorium on all ongoing drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet. Yesterday, the eight experts sent a letter to Sen. Landrieu and several other government officials highlighting their opposition to the moratorium.

“We broadly agree with the detailed recommendations in the report and compliment the Department of Interior for its efforts,” the letter said. “However, we do not agree with the six-month blanket moratorium on floating drilling. A moratorium was added after the final review and was never agreed to by the contributors.”

Sen. Landrieu also highlighted the job loss in the Gulf Coast that would result from an extended drilling moratorium.

“The consequences of this moratorium could be devastating to our state,” Landrieu said. “Each of these 33 deepwater rigs directly employs 100 to 200 people and indirectly creates hundreds of other jobs. On behalf of the people I represent, I am asking: can you give any time certain that we can get our people back to work? And, if not, what are you going to tell the people in Louisiana to give them some confidence that you are doing everything and the President is doing everything he can so that we can get to the root of safety, implement it, so that we can produce the oil, not just for ourselves, but for the country that needs it.”

For video of the exchange between Sen. Landrieu and Secretary Salazar, please visit here.

For a copy of the letter sent to Sen. Landrieu by the eight experts opposed to a six-month moratorium, please visit here.

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