Gov't Issues New Moratorium on Deepwater Drilling

The federal government has issued a new moratorium on deepwater drilling, days after an appeals court upheld a ruling against the ban.

The Department of the Interior initially sought to ban all deepwater drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico for six months, but a federal judge sided with oil companies that claimed the ban, first issued in May, would hurt their business. Last week, the federal government lost an appeal of that decision.

In an announcement today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar unveiled the details of a new moratorium that would remain in effect through November 30. The new regulations would require oil companies to submit detailed plans about their projects and prove they have conducted tests to ensure the safety of their operations, as well as contigency plans in the event of an accident.

The new moratorium is no longer based solely on depth; instead, it applies to all deep-water drilling apparatus. Salazar says the government needs more time to assess the safety of such projects.

"I am basing my decision on evidence that grows every day of the industry's inability in the deepwater to contain a catastrophic blowout, respond to an oil spill, and to operate safely," Salazar said in a statement.