Interior imposes new drilling moratorium

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a new moratorium Monday on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and it largely resembles one that federal courts have struck down twice. The new order allows production to resume if oil rig owners meet certain safety conditions.

"I am basing my decision on evidence that grows every day of the industry's inability in the deep water to contain a catastrophic blowout, respond to an oil spill, and to operate safely," Salazar said in a statement.

The new moratorium drew condemnation from Republicans and moderate Democrats like Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, but won praise from other Democrats and progressive groups.

Salazar has directed Michael Bromwich, the head of the Interior Department's new agency tasked with regulating offshore energy production, to seek outside input about how offshore drilling can be conducted more safely.

The moratorium announced Monday will last until the end of November, or until Salazar deems that oil drilling can resume, according to the Interior Department.

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