The Obama administration’s six-month ban on deepwater oil-and-gas drilling is slated to end in late November and could be lifted sooner.
But in addition to criticizing that ban, Landrieu and other Gulf Coast lawmakers say the Interior Department is moving far too slowly in approving permits for shallow-water drilling, even though these projects technically are not covered by the moratorium.
“She is referring to both the official deepwater moratorium and the de facto moratorium of shallow-water drilling,” Landrieu spokesman Aaron Saunders said of Landrieu’s comment that she can’t support energy legislation absent action on drilling.
Interior Department officials have acknowledged that permitting for shallow-water projects has slowed in the wake of the BP oil spill, citing new safety requirements.
“I understand the frustration that people feel because we are not able to review and approve applications as expeditiously as we have in the past. But the central fact is that it has taken time to submit and verify the additional required information. We will not approve applications until and unless they fully comply with the new requirements. That will not make everyone happy, but it is the right way to proceed," said Michael Bromwich, the director of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, earlier this month.