NOIA President Randall Luthi issued the following statement in response to the lifting of the deepwater drilling moratorium announced Oct. 12 by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar:
“While we are pleased today that Secretary Salazar has opted to end the job-killing moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, our companies remain doubtful that this announcement is anything more than symbolic, until permits are actually issued for new drilling.
“In the shallow water gulf, where no official moratorium was imposed, permitting slowed to a snail’s pace under the government guidelines imposed this summer, some of which are now codified in the Interim Final Drilling Safety Rule announced by DOI last week. It is therefore not a stretch to assume that, despite today’s action, companies operating in the deepwater Gulf may suffer a similar de facto moratorium.
“Slowing or stopping the actual issuance of permits is not the only threat posed by the Administration’s handling of this issue. The Interior Department today referred to the ‘dynamic’ nature of future regulations in an effort to show they would adapt as circumstances warrant. That sounds good. In reality, however, it introduces another level of uncertainty to a regulatory process that has come to be less predictable than in many under-developed nations around the globe. When billions of dollars of investment are at stake, a ‘dynamic’ regulatory process could be as dangerous to future offshore energy development as an outright ban.
“Any moratorium on offshore drilling and operations, official, de facto or in the form of vague dynamic regulatory systems, kills jobs and home-grown energy. The offshore industry is ready, willing and able to comply with governmental rules and regulations to ensure safe operations, but would also like to see the Department focus more energy and resources on reviewing and approving permits so we can get back to work for America.”