Sen. Vitter to block nominee until expiring Gulf of Mexico drilling leases extended

Source: US Senator David Vitter

U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) revealed that he will block the nomination of Rebecca Wodder to serve as Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks for the Department of Interior until the agency extends hundreds of Gulf of Mexico drilling leases that are set to expire this year. 

“Since the moratorium, oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico has been dramatically curtailed,” Vitter said. “In 2011 alone, more than 300 offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico are due to expire. If these leases are allowed to expire, they will revert to the federal government, killing jobs and cutting off potential revenue from exploration and production. The U.S. economy will greatly benefit by allowing the offshore energy industry to get to work and stay working. Even President Obama said he’d extend the leases, and I intend to hold the administration to that.” 

On May 14, 2011, President Obama in his weekly radio address stated: “We’re also taking steps to give companies time to meet higher safety standards when it comes to exploration and drilling. That’s why my Administration is extending drilling leases in areas of the Gulf [of Mexico] that were impacted by the temporary moratorium, as well as certain areas off the coast of Alaska.” 

Vitter said that the hold on Wodder’s nomination would remain in place until the expiring leases are extended for one year. 

Since the Obama administration implemented the drilling moratorium last year, Vitter has consistently fought to reopen the Gulf of Mexico to the energy exploration that is vital to the economy in Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states. Earlier this year, he blocked the nomination of Interior nominee Dan Ashe until the department issued fifteen deepwater exploration well permits and responded to his previous requests for answers on the permitting process. 

Vitter also successfully blocked a nearly $20,000 pay raise for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and has promised to continue blocking the raise until Interior resumes issuing new permits at the same rate as before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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