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Gulf oil spill: Salazar defends moratorium on deep-water drilling

July 21, 2010 |  6:49 am
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday that there were "corners that were cut" by BP in drilling its Gulf of Mexico well, and that "prior administration and this administration have not done as much as we could have done relative to making sure that there was safer production in the outer continental shelf."

Salazar defended his renewed moratorium on deep-water drilling in the face of criticism from gulf lawmakers from both parties.

"We are aware of the economic impact of the moratorium," he said. "We also believe that it would be irresponsible to take our hand off the pause button given the current circumstance."

Asked about BP's idea for a "static kill" that would involve pumping mud and cement into the top of the well, Salazar said that a team of scientists is examining the idea.

"We will not allow BP to move forward with the static kill option if we think that it is going to create greater jeopardy and compromise the integrity of the well," he said.

Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) said mistakes were made under both the Bush and Obama administrations.

"The cop on the beat was off duty for nearly a decade," he said, "and this gave rise to a dangerous culture of   permissiveness."

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) said the committee hearing reminded him of a Jay Leno joke.

After a hearing in which officials of companies involved in the drilling pointed fingers at each other, Burgess recalled Leno saying: "'President Obama had enough of it. He said no more finger-pointing, and then he promptly went out and blamed Bush for the whole problem.' Well, that's where we are this morning."

-- Richard Simon in Washington

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