In Washington Monday, the Obama administration took another stab at halting offshore drilling in U.S. waters, announcing a six-month moratorium that's no longer based on water depth. The goverment's previous two moratorium orders were rejected by the courts.
Echoing the sentiments of environmentalists, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar argued that the order is necessary because of "evidence that grows every day of the industry's inability in the deep water to contain a catastrophic blowout, respond to an oil spill and to operate safely."
The new order, which will last through November 30, does not appear to deviate much from the previous one. It also applies to deep-water drilling operators but expands the definition to include any deep-water floating facility with drilling activities.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs who successfully sued to block the original moratorium said they are reviewing the new order.
William K. Reilly, who co-chairs the presidential commission appointed to investigate the BP oil spill, told the New York Times he was concerned about the economic pain caused by the moratorium, and will pressure the Interior Department to lift it as soon as possible.