The U.S. Interior Department on Monday formally issued its new offshore oil drilling moratorium, saying it would end by November 30 or sooner and it would no longer be based on water depths.
More than eighty days into the BP oil spill, a pause on deepwater drilling is essential and appropriate to protect communities, coasts, and wildlife from the risks that deepwater drilling currently pose, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.
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, he added.
The revised ban does not suspend offshore activities based on water depth, but on the basis of drilling configurations and technologies, the department said.
The previously announced drilling ban, which was blocked by the courts, affected drilling in waters more than 500 feet deep.
The revised moratorium follows a U.S. appeals court decision last week that the U.S. government's first plan for suspending deepwater drilling was too broad and failed to take into account the economic impact it would have on the industry and Gulf Coast economies.
The administration's pause on some deepwater drilling projects is a response to BP Plc's April 20 oil rig blowout that has sent millions of gallons of crude spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, ravaging fragile ecosystems and Gulf coast communities.
(Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Will Dunham)