Wicker, others introduce legislation to lift drilling moratorium - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Wicker, Vitter, Cornyn introduce legislation to lift drilling moratorium

WASHINGTON, D. C. (WLOX) - U.S. Sens. David Vitter (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) this week introduced legislation that would lift the Obama administration's offshore drilling and permitting moratorium for companies that have complied with the new safety and inspection requirements issued by the Department of the Interior (DOI).

"Despite being rejected by federal courts, and over the continued objections of Gulf state lawmakers, President Obama's administration continues to push these job-killing moratoriums and excuses for not issuing permits. Even members of his own commission have changed their views on the moratorium now that they've come to Louisiana and heard testimony from affected Louisianans. It is time for Congress to pass legislation that takes this moratorium out of the political hands of the White House," said Vitter.

"The Obama Administration's job-killing moratorium has only compounded the economic effects of this disaster. There's a better approach to protecting workers and our environment in the Gulf. Instead of an overly broad moratorium that shifts jobs overseas and increases our dependence on foreign oil, our legislation focuses Washington's enforcement. Our approach would ensure operators who are in compliance with the safety guidelines have some deadline on when their permits would be considered, and keep Gulf coast residents at work," said Cornyn.

"It is clear that the moratorium is nothing more than a guise to stopping domestic energy production," said Wicker. "The administration is trying to sell the moratorium to the American people as a necessary step to ensure safety. The recently released government safety standards are sufficient to protect the environment and the public. This bill will help put people back to work who have been laid off by the administration as a result of its decision to suspend drilling."

This bill would force DOI 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 would force Interior to issue a decision 30 days after receiving a permit application.

U.S. Rep. Pete Olson of Texas will introduce an identical version of this bill in the House next week.

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