Angelle: Offshore drilling reaches highest level since moratorium
There are 41 rigs drilling in the federal waters of the Louisiana outer continental shelf, says Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle. However, overall drilling activity in the region's deep and shallow waters still has not reached the levels seen before 2010's BP oil spill and subsequent drilling moratorium. Angelle says the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit heard oral arguments Wednesday in an attempt by several environmental groups to reverse federal regulatory issuance in May 2011 of a Gulf of Mexico deepwater exploration plan approved nearly a full year after the moratorium began in May 2010. The groups filed suit against federal regulators in June 2011, asking the 11th Circuit to reverse the approval for a Shell Offshore supplemental exploration plan. The federal Bureau of Energy Management and the states of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi are backing Shell in the case. "Some of the demands issued in this suit would push regulation of the offshore energy industry to the point of strangulation of that industry, as well as the jobs, economic opportunities and domestic energy production provided by Gulf exploration," Angelle says. The 11th Circuit has not given a timetable for final ruling on the suit.
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