The Obama administration lifted the oil and gas drilling ban which had been in effect in the Gulf of Mexico since July and was due to expire on the 30th of November. Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement announced that a series of technological and safety reforms have been made mandatory for approval of further permits. The new regulations have been considered sufficiently stringent to allow deepwater drilling under them.
The lifting of the ban has come a couple of weeks prior to the midterm congressional election. There has been enormous pressure on the Obama administration from Democrats on the Gulf Coast who have been worried about the ramifications of the ban on the midterm elections. The ban is said to have been the cause of thousands of jobs and huge losses of revenue. The April explosion and subsequent oil spill has been one of the worst environmental disaster in America’s history. The handling of the catastrophe and post spill consequences by the administration has been hugely criticized and compared to Bush’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), has been blocking the appointment of Obama’s new chief of the Office of Management and Budget until the ban was lifted.
The Interior Department has directed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, or BOEM, to ask for new permits from drillers whose work were suspended under the ban.
Under the new regulations, the chief executive will be held responsible for any lapses under their water. The BOEM will inspect each deepwater drilling operation and check its spill containment capacity before fresh permits are issued. This procedure could take weeks and the representatives of the oil industry feel that the process is too slow and could result in a practical moratorium. The environmental activists are upset about the ban being lifted even before the investigation into the BP oil spill is completed.