By Ben Geman - 03/30/11 06:34 PM EDT
Republicans have intensified their attacks on White House drilling policies amid the rise in gasoline prices, accusing the Interior Department of moving far too slowly in issuing offshore drilling permits, in particular.
But even if only offshore permits issued since last year’s BP spill under new safety mandates are considered — as opposed to the number of onshore and offshore permits since Obama took office — the numbers are far above the single permit Bachmann cited.
Interior has issued several dozen shallow-water permits since implementing tougher guidelines after last April’s blowout of BP’s Macondo well, and since late February has approved eight permits (the number was six when Bachmann spoke) for the type of deepwater projects that were halted under the post-spill moratorium that lifted in October.
Doug Sachtleben, a spokesman for Bachmann, said she was referring specifically to the deepwater permit approved for Chevron Corp. on March 24.
Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, in announcing the permit, noted it is “the first deepwater permit approved for completely new exploration since the deepwater drilling moratorium was lifted.”
“This means that this is the first exploratory well drilled into this reservoir or field, which has never produced,” the department said at the time.
Sachtleben suggested that Bachmann might address the issue differently in the future, noting that Bachmann wants people to understand “exactly” what she is referring to.