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Moratorium could be more devastating than spill itself (Sen. David Vitter)

The oil spill has been an unprecedented disaster, and Louisianians are heartbroken not only by the initial loss of life, but also by the ongoing devastation to our coast.  But shutting down drilling altogether is a mistake that would only make the long-term economic situation worse for residents of the Gulf Coast, as uncertainty forces energy companies to relocate their assets and the jobs they provide overseas.  We must continue energy exploration here at home to acquire the energy resources our nation needs, and we must do it while making the process safer.

Yet the Obama administration has rejected a careful, balanced approach in favor of a heavy-handed blanket moratorium.  After multiple court rulings against the initial moratorium, the administration has devised a new version of the moratorium that affects deepwater and shallow-water rigs alike.  The Department of Interior has also failed to act on pending drilling permit applications, creating a de facto moratorium even for companies that have complied with new safety and inspection requirements.

Last week, U.S. Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Roger Wicker of Mississippi joined me in introducing a bill that would lift the administration’s newest offshore drilling and permitting moratorium.  Our bill would force the Department of Interior to speed up the permitting process and make definitive decisions on issuing permits once a company has complied with the new safety and inspection requirements.  It would be enforced on a permit-by-permit basis, making the moratorium invalid for any operator that complies with Interior’s recently issued safety and inspection requirements, and it would force Interior to issue a decision within 30 days after receiving a permit application.

With our economy struggling, we can’t afford to let the administration kill thousands more jobs while shifting an even larger percentage of our energy production overseas.  Instead, let’s focus on enforcing the current regulations so that folks in the energy sector can get back to work producing the resources our economy needs as it recovers.

Tags John Cornyn Roger Wicker

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