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Regional EPA Chief Defends Drilling Moratorium

EPA regional director Al Armendariz
EPA regional director Al Armendariz

By BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas, TX – The regional EPA Administrator is defending the Obama Administration moratorium on deepwater offshore oil drilling. But one industry expert says six months "on hold" is not the way to respond to the BP blowout. KERA's BJ Austin reports.

EPA regional director Al Armendariz says the ingredients are still there for another deepwater well disaster in the Gulf.

Armendariz: I don't have much confidence right now that we either have the emergency response capability, or the confidence in the permitting processes that have been used for the past 20 years that would ensure us that something like what has happened with that BP well won't happen again.

Armendariz made his comments during a taping of KERA's program "Think". He was joined by SMU Maguire Energy Institute director Bruce Bullock, who says no one wants drilling to go forward if it's unsafe, but he disagrees with an arbitrary six months.

Bullock: A six month moratorium, with a date and some big blue ribbon commission to take a look at it is more of a political move than a policy move.

Bullock says a "pause" is more appropriate, during which time spill plans could be completed, engineering issues addressed, and blow-out preventers tested. He says then drilling could proceed.

A three-judge appeals court panel, on Thursday, refused to reinstate the drilling moratorium. A hearing before the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is set for August 30th.

Email BJ Austin