Interior critics say that shallow water permitting practices – and the temporary freeze on deepwater projects – are overly aggressive and harming the Gulf Coast economy. Lawmakers including Louisiana’s senators allege there is a “de facto” ban on shallow-water projects, which Interior disputes.
But Obama administration officials say that job losses from the deepwater ban have been less than feared, and say they’re prioritizing safety for all projects following the catastrophic spill from BP’s deepwater Macondo well.
Interior has approved seven shallow-water drilling permits since updated safety requirements were issued on June 8, while seven are “pending plan approval,” the department said Friday.
Cassidy’s letter says the committee should ensure Interior “has the resources, focus, and sense of urgency to return to an active permitting process for Gulf energy production.”