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Obama Administration Defends Its Gulf Oil Spill Response

Days after it emerged that the Obama administration estimated a moratorium on deepwater oil and natural gas drilling would cost 23,000 jobs and amid criticism from scientists that it is offering too-rosy assessments of the spill’s aftermath, key officials have launched a defense of the administration’s actions.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar penned an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle in which he said the administration has “launched the most aggressive, advanced and swift offshore drilling reforms ever implemented.”

According to the op-ed:

[I]n the deep-water areas, where the Deepwater Horizon blowout occurred, it is necessary and appropriate to require operators to demonstrate improved safety, blowout containment and spill response practices before allowing drilling to continue.

To be sure, both the deep-water drilling moratorium and the reforms we are implementing have drawn fire from the same powerful interests who have, over the last two decades, systematically fought regulation and oversight of offshore drilling operations.

But make no mistake: Our country needs these reforms and we will deliver them. We will raise the bar for deep-water drilling. We will hold the industry accountable. And we will build the strongest and safest offshore energy development program in the world. Salazar is secretary of the Interior.

Thad Allen, the national incident commander in the Gulf, also wrote an op-ed today. Allen, in The Washington Post, pats the administration on the back for what he calls “an unprecedented response” to the spill.

No one is claiming victory or “mission accomplished” at this point, nor should we. We should, however, recognize what has been done.

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