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U.S. Issues New Moratorium On Offshore Drilling

The Obama administration is issuing a new moratorium on deep-water offshore drilling, and it's no longer based on water depth.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made the announcement Monday, arguing that a pause is still needed to ensure that oil and gas companies implement safety measures to reduce risks — and are prepared to handle spills.

The new moratorium will last through Nov. 30. Unlike the previous moratorium, which applied to waters of more than 500 feet, the new one applies to any deep-water floating facility with drilling activities.

Last week, a federal appeals court rejected the government's effort to halt the approval of any new permits for deep-water projects and suspend drilling on 33 exploratory wells.

This time, Salazar went to greater lengths to justify the temporary drilling ban. He pointed to shortcomings with blowout preventers that deep-water drillers rely on, and growing evidence of the industry's "inability" to contain a big spill.

The government is reaching out to oil companies and others for recommendations about how to make deep-water drilling less dangerous. But the American Petroleum Association, which represents the oil industry, called the new order unnecessary and said it was shortsighted to shut down a major part of the nation's energy lifeline and endanger tens of thousands of jobs.

A White House spokesman said President Obama wants to resume deep-water drilling "once it's safe."