Lawmaker to block DOI appointment until gulf leases extended

US Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) announced that he would block Rebecca Wodder’s nomination to be Assistant US Interior Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks unless the US Department of the Interior extends hundreds of Gulf of Mexico leases due to expire this year.

Vitter said that oil and gas exploration in the gulf has fallen dramatically since US Interior Sec. Ken Salazar imposed a temporary deepwater drilling moratorium following the Macondo well blowout and subsequent crude oil spill in 2010.

“In 2011 alone, more than 300 offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico are due to expire,” the federal lawmaker said on Aug. 3. “If these leases are allowed to expire, they will revert to the federal government, killing jobs and cutting off potential revenue from exploration and production.”

US President Barack Obama said in his May 14 weekly radio address that the administration was taking steps to extend the leases.

“I intend to hold the administration to that,” said Vitter, adding that the hold which he placed on Wodder’s nomination would stay in place until DOI extended the leases for a year.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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