Bipolar Interior Dept. Now Denies Drilling Freeze in Shallow Gulf Waters
Earlier today, environmental reporters were surprised to learn that, in a reversal, the Interior Department had extended its offshore drilling freeze to shallow waters in the Gulf of Mexico. According to The Washington Post, Michael J. Saucier of the Minerals Management Service, a branch of the Interior Department, wrote to one company seeking a drilling permit that “until further notice we have been informed not to approve or allow any drilling no matter the water depth” — just three days after he told the same company that the administration’s moratorium on offshore drilling wouldn’t apply to waters under 500 feet in depth.
Seems he was right the first time. An Interior Department spokesman is now telling the Post that “shallow water drilling may continue as long as oil and gas operations satisfy the environmental and safety requirements Secretary Salazar outlined in his report to the President and have exploration plans that meet those requirements. There is no moratorium on shallow water drilling.”
For opponents of offshore drilling in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, it was nice while it lasted.