By Andrew Restuccia - 02/12/11 02:35 PM EST
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) slammed what she called a “de facto moratorium” on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico late Saturday night amid news that a major shallow-water driller filed for bankruptcy.
Landrieu, an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s offshore drilling policies, blamed the Interior Department’s “excruciatingly slow release of oil and gas permits” for the company’s hard times.
The Obama administration imposed a moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of last year’s massive oil spill. The moratorium has since been lifted, but Landrieu and other drill-state lawmakers say drillers are operating under a “de facto moratorium” because no deepwater drilling permits have been issued.
The Interior Department has issued a suite of new safety rules with which drillers must comply, a process that has resulted in frustrations in the industry.
But shallow-water drilling in the Gulf was exempt from the administration’s moratorium and the Interior Department has issued 31 shallow-water permits since the oil spill.
That’s not enough, Landrieu said.
“The most infuriating thing about this announcement is that the shallow water industry was not placed under the president's moratorium,” she said. “Despite this, [Interior’s] new rules and regulations make it very difficult to conduct business in the Gulf. It is time the administration ends this madness and gets the folks along the Gulf Coast back to work.”