Republicans introduce bill to lift drilling moratorium

A pair of House and Senate Republicans introduced legislation Tuesday to end President Barack Obama's six-month ban on offshore drilling starts.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) filed legislation to lift the short-term moratorium on new deepwater offshore drilling that the president put into place following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The legislation comes in response to Gulf Coast lawmakers pushing to lift the moratorium out of concern that the ban, which the White House has said could be lifted before the six months are exhausted, would only exacerbate the negative economic effects of the spill.

"This moratorium threatens to finish what the oil spill started," Vitter said in a statement. "If it stays in place, even for six months, it will be a devastating blow to the economy of Louisiana and other Gulf states."

The Republicans aren't the only one to support lifting the ban, either. Vitter's Louisiana colleague, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), has also urged the president to lift the moratorium.

Other lawmakers from Gulf states, however, have joined with Obama in a more measured approach, waiting for federal officials and the president's oil spill commission to finish its work on investigating the causes of the spill and ways to prevent future accidents before allowing new drilling starts.

Olson argued that stalled drilling could adversely affect the oil industry in Gulf states for perhaps a decade if the moratorium is allowed to persist.

"Industry experts indicate losses of millions of dollars per day and have explored moving operations overseas," he said. "It would take a minimum of 5-10 years to get production back to normal operations should these rigs leave."