HOUSTON, Texas -- Secretary Salazar met with BP officials and engineers at their Command Center in Houston today to review the company's continuing efforts to control the source of their oil spill, contain and attack the surface slick and assist Gulf Coast communities in protecting shorelines and natural resources.
“I met with BP leadership to receive their latest reports on efforts to capture the leak plume, attack the spill and protect Gulf Coast communities and their environment,” Salazar said. “As the Responsible Party, BP needs to maintain an all-out campaign on each of these priorities for as long as it takes. The President has made clear that BP will be held accountable and our job is to provide the oversight to ensure that the company is doing everything it can to meet its critical responsibilities.”
In a media availability after the meeting, Secretary Salazar announced that, as a result of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, beginning April 20 – the date of the explosion – no applications for drilling permits will go forward for any new offshore drilling activity until the Department of the Interior completes the safety review process that President Obama requested. In accordance with the President's request, the Department will deliver its report to the President by May 28, 2010. The only exceptions to the new rule regarding permit approvals are the two relief wells that are being drilled in response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
In addition, MMS Director Liz Birnbaum sent a letter today to Shell Oil Company President Marvin Odum confirming that MMS will not make a final decision on the requested permits for the drilling of exploration wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas until the Department of the Interior's report to the President has been submitted and evaluated.
Since the BP Oil Spill Salazar has pressed BP officials and engineers to work harder, faster, and smarter to cap the leaks and contain the spill and urged other offshore energy companies to bring their expertise, resources, and ideas to the response effort. “We want to make sure every available resource - industry and government - is being put to use to tackle this problem,” Salazar said.
Before flying to Houston, Salazar visited the Federal Government's Unified Command operations center in Mobile, Alabama Thursday morning. The previous day he had visited national wildlife refuges on the Louisiana and Alabama coast to assess on-the-ground efforts to protect sensitive areas; made an aerial survey of containment and cleanup efforts underway on Gulf waters; and inspected the four-story cofferdam that will attempt to capture the largest leak from the damaged wellhead.
Among the major initiatives Salazar has already undertaken to combat the spill, the Secretary
More information on the federal response effort is online at www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.