May 25, 2010
Contact:
Emerson Brown, NPR


   

NPR NEWS REPORTS: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S MORATORIUM
TO SUSPEND OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING NEVER PUT INTO WRITING

NPR News has learned that the Obama administration's moratorium to suspend offshore oil drilling following the April 20 explosion at BP's Deepwater Horizon was never put into writing. NPR White House correspondent Ari Shapiro reports that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave a verbal order to the director of the Minerals Management Service to suspend offshore drilling, and the lack of a formal document outlining the terms of this ban may be adding to the confusion surrounding the moratorium.

The report is airing this evening on NPR's All Things Considered, and full audio will be available online at NPR.org at approximately 7PM (ET).

Shapiro also reports that Administration officials have given conflicting statements about the ban. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar inaccurately testified during a Congressional hearing on May 18, saying no new wells had been started since April 20th. Interior Spokesman Matt Lee-Ashely confirms to NPR that there was a deepwater well begun after the explosion "on a permit that was approved prior to the explosion."

The fact that the moratorium was never put into writing "is so ridiculous that it defies understanding," says government expert and professor of public service at NYU Paul Light. "It could not be more important to enforce this moratorium and make absolutely clear to the oil industry what is and is not permissible. And yet you have the execution of a critical order that appears to have been basically done through the most casual way possible under federal law."

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All Things Considered, NPR's signature afternoon newsmagazine, is hosted by Melissa Block, Michele Norris and Robert Siegel and reaches 12.4 million listeners weekly. To find local stations and broadcast times for the program, visit www.npr.org/stations