Obama Administration Seeks New Deepwater Drilling Ban

A U.S. judge on Tuesday overturned a six-month ban on drilling in water deeper than 500 feet (152 metres) after an appeal by drillers who stand to lose business.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he would seek to replace the ban with a new order clarifying why it was necessary. The moratorium was imposed after a well operated by British oil company BP ruptured on April 20 and began spewing millions of gallons of crude into the sea.

The earlier moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was described as "heavy-handed, and rather overbearing" by the federal judge who blocked it, complaining that there was insufficient justification. Salazar, who testifies before a Senate subcommittee today, says the new order will make the justification clear and "eliminate any doubt" that a moratorium is needed.