Local Lawmakers Seek Drilling Permits

A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to know why the federal Government is taking so long to issue drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico. The lawmakers say zero deepwater drilling permits have been issued since the moratorium was lifted last year. Laurie Johnson reports.

After last April's Deepwater Horizon explosion, President Obama issued a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The moratorium on shallow water drilling was lifted last May and the deepwater drilling moratorium was lifted in October. But only a handful of shallow water permits and zero deepwater permits have been issued.

Congressman Gene Green, a Democrat from Houston, says he wants a hearing to examine why the permits are taking so long.

"Deepwater has been really slow, and even the shallow water permits — I think as of the end of last week only 31 shallow water permits had been issued in all those months. And yet, at one time, we would do 20 a month."

One reason the permits are taking longer is because of new safety and environmental regulations. But Republican Congressman Pete Olson says that doesn't adequately explain why zero deepwater permits have been issued.

"They had six months to prepare for this moratorium being lifted. I mean they put it in place shortly after the April explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. They knew at some point they should have been planning for this moratorium to be lifted."

Olson and Green, along with four other Gulf Coast lawmakers, are calling on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to examine why the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management continues to reject drilling permits.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...