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Deepwater Triggers Drilling Reduction

The Interior Department is reversing the plan laid out last March, before the BP oil spill, to drill for oil off the East Coast and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The new plan means no new drilling proposals off of the East Coast for at least seven years.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that the move would ban drilling until beyond 2017 oil and gas exploration in areas where there is currently no drilling activity, such as the eastern Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida, and the mid- and southern Atlantic Ocean.

The reversal was made “in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill” which brought with it a stricter regulatory regime and tougher safety rules for offshore drilling, Salazar said.

“As a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we learned a number of lessons,” Mr. Salazar said in an afternoon briefing, “most importantly that we need to proceed with caution and focus on creating a more stringent regulatory regime.”

The administration imposed a moratorium in May on all deepwater offshore drilling while the new safety procedures were drawn up. Mr. Salazar lifted the ban in October, and oil companies have been seeking new permits to resume exploration in the gulf.

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