Earlier this month, the Interior Department released a new set of rules for deep-water offshore drilling — a move that many observers saw as a signal that the Obama administration was finally preparing to reverse the moratorium it put in place following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. And today the White House made it official, announcing that it will now drop the drilling ban.
The news is very welcome in the Gulf Coast region, where the moratorium has been wildly unpopular from the start. It had been scheduled to end on November 30 of this year otherwise.Louisiana political leaders gave mixed reviews to the White House's announcement. Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement that "the administration is certainly long overdue in undoing their 'job-killing policy,' " but added that he plans to wait and monitor "how new regulations on deep-water drilling are implemented to see if permits are issued in a timely manner."
Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu likewise labeled the move "a good start," while noting that "it must be accompanied by an action plan to get the entire industry in the Gulf of Mexico back to work." Landrieu also said that she'll continue to hold up confirmation of Jack Lew, the Obama administration's nominee to head up the Office of Management and Budget, until she believes the Gulf oil industry is fully back in swing.
State Senator Norby Chabert — a Democrat whose conservative district contains some parts of coastal Louisiana hit hard economically by the moratorium — also chimed in, telling The Upshot that he's "excited they have finally decided to end this politically motivated moratorium on Louisiana jobs, but the damage to our workforce has been done, and I don't know how long it's going to take to put it back together."