Legislation has been introduced in the Senate and House aimed at speeding up permitting for oil and natural gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico who have complied with the new safety and inspection regulations issued by the Interior Department.

"Our legislation would essentially limit the moratorium and make it easier for good-faith and conscientious operators who are in compliance to get their permits approved quickly, and keep the rigs and jobs here at home," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on the Senate floor Wednesday. He is one of three Republicans -- the others being Sens. David Vitter of Louisiana and Roger Wicker of Mississippi -- to sponsor the bill.

The measure "requires companies to [comply] with safety inspection requirements and then to be certified by third parties, after which [time] Interior would issue permits for continued exploration and development" in the Gulf, he said.

The companion bill in the House ( H.R. 5722) was introduced by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX). Under the bill, the moratorium would become invalid for any operator that complies with Interior's recently issued safety and inspection requirements, and it would force Interior to issue a decision 30 days after receiving a permit application.

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