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Cochran, Wicker co-sponsor bill to 'revive' offshore drilling



WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) have cosponsored a resolution that outlines steps the U.S. Department of the Interior should take to revive offshore energy production, which has stagnated despite the lifting of federal drilling bans.

The bipartisan resolution, authored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), details the plight of offshore energy exploration since the tragic Deepwater Horizon blowout last April, the subsequent moratoria on production and the ongoing delays in the federal permit process. In addition to seeking adequate guidance to those seeking new permits, the measure discusses the importance of offshore production to meet the natural gas and petroleum demand in the United States.

Delays in issuing new post-moratorium permits, the resolution points out, have contributed to at least 13 shallow water rigs and at least six deepwater rigs leaving the U.S. holdings in the Gulf of Mexico for work in international waters. It notes that the capacity of the U.S. deepwater fleet has been diminished by 40 percent as a result of a de facto moratorium.

The resolution notes that before the oil spill and resulting moratoriums, the Gulf of Mexico provided about 30 percent of the oil and 10 percent of the natural gas produced in the United States, involved more than 400,000 jobs in the region and in 2009 provided about $20 billion in revenues to federal, state and local governments through royalties, bonuses and tax collections.

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