Feds Lift Deepwater Drilling Moratorium

New Rules Strengthen Safety, But Cause Still Needs to be Determined

WASHINGTON (October 12, 2010) -- Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar lifted the federal moratorium on deepwater drilling today, which was instated following the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Below is a statement by Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Today’s actions are premature. The difficult clean-up process in the Gulf has taught us prevention is key. To ensure a disaster like this never happens again, we must know what caused it in the first place.  We’re still waiting for that answer and until we get it -- the moratorium should remain in place.

“In the six months since the spill, a pause on deepwater drilling has provided the government time to enact new rules that put safety first -- to protect workers, to protect our environment, and to protect coastal communities.  These new rules are strong and will hold oil companies to new safety standards that will make sure future drilling is done more responsibly.  But they may not be enough.

“Multiple panels are still investigating the accident, and we need to have their answers -- and their solutions implemented -- before we can confidently move forward with deepwater drilling.  Their reports are expected soon and will provide the industry and government with confidence and knowledge that will benefit everyone in the long run.

“We should wait for their solutions because until we address the cause, we’re still gambling with the Gulf.”