Drilling Moratorium, Take Two


After its first attempt to impose a moratorium on new deepwater drilling lost in federal court last month and then on an appeal last week, the Obama administration took another stab at blocking new drilling Tuesday.

The administration’s latest moratorium would allow some operations to continue—if drillers can certify that there are adequate plans in place to control a well, that the blowout preventer on the well is functioning properly, and that the company has the “ability to respond effectively to a potential oil spill.”

The administration’s first moratorium shut down 33 exploratory drilling operations in the deepwater. In practice, the new moratorium would likely keep those operations on hold for now; federal regulators have until the end of August to come up with new guidelines that will clarify what companies will have to do to get the green light. The Department of Interior’s statements today indicated that they expect most operations will remain on hold through the end of November, the original expiration date for the moratorium. “Like the deepwater drilling moratorium lifted by the District Court on June 22, the deepwater drilling suspensions ordered today apply to most deepwater drilling activities and could last through Nov. 30,” the agency said.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar indicated that he believes the continued moratorium is necessary to ensure that the there are no repeats of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. “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,” said Salazar in a statement.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.