Exxon makes major oil discovery in Gulf

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House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) applauded the discovery Wednesday and argued it shows the Gulf’s potential as a source of domestic oil.

“This is the exact reason why Republicans have been pressuring the Department of the Interior to issue offshore permits—America has abundant oil and natural gas reserves, we simply need to allow the hardworking men and women in the energy industry to do their job,” Hastings said in a statement.

Republicans and drill-state Democrats have alleged that the Obama administration is slow-walking the issuance of Gulf drilling permits. But the administration insists that it is working diligently to approve permits under a new regulatory scheme that includes beefed-up safety and environmental standards.

BOEMRE has approved 15 deepwater permits since February, when the industry was able to show that it can contain well blowouts.