By Andrew Restuccia - 03/14/11 02:05 PM EDT
"As we said last week, all new permits are welcome, but the administration has once again chosen to focus on baby steps, approving a permit for a project that was operational prior to the moratorium, instead of taking the steps necessary to produce the domestic resources this country needs,” American Petroleum Institute Upstream Director Erik Milito said in a statement.
The Interior Department outlined a series of tougher safety regulations after the Gulf spill. Under the beefed-up rules, companies must prove that they can contain deep-sea well blowouts.
The pace of permitting has slowed since the spill as companies work to meet the new regulations. BOEMRE has issued 37 shallow-water permits and two deepwater permits.
Drilling advocates have criticized the administration for the pace of issuing permits. "The oil and natural-gas industry can and will provide even more jobs, higher economic growth, and increased revenues to the federal treasury when policymakers pursue options that make resources currently off-limits available, and move forward on permitting and licenses at a pace necessary to support domestic production,” Milito said in the statement.
But the administration counters that it is working diligently to issue permits and says President Obama is committed to supporting oil-and-gas drilling as one part of the nation’s energy portfolio.