The Louisiana congressional delegation led by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has called on President Obama to put an end to the de facto moratorium in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

In a letter to the president Friday, the eight-member group wrote, "We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you as a delegation how this can most effectively be done to benefit all stakeholders. We...request to meet with Chief of Staff William Daley to further discuss this matter."

The moratorium, which was imposed last May following the Macondo well blowout, officially ended in October (see Daily GPI, Oct. 13, 2010). However, the oil and natural gas industry contends that a de facto moratorium continues because of the Interior Department's sluggish pace in issuing new drilling permits.

"The de facto moratorium which replaced it [the original moratorium] has created a new climate of uncertainty. There is now a confusing and cumbersome permitting policy on drilling, with nothing being approved," the Louisiana delegation said.

An analysis by the Obama administration indicated that the economic impact of the drilling ban led to nearly $2 billion in reduced industry spending and a loss of up to 12,000 jobs, according to the lawmakers. And studies commissioned by business and industry pointed to even greater losses.

"As we work to restore U.S. manufacturing jobs, offshore energy production can be a driver for national independence and innovation. Instead the current decision to limit OCS [Outer Continental Shelf] drilling has paralyzed an important domestic industry, cut thousands of jobs and stifled economic investment and growth at a time when job creation is paramount," the group noted.

"As Congress prepares to enact major cuts in spending aimed at reducing our deficit, we should not deny royalties and other revenue from oil and gas development that could assist in paying down the debt.

"Wood Mackenzie...recently released a study showing that a one-year delay in the permitting process will likely result in a loss of nearly $10.8 billion in government revenues, further exacerbating our problem."

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