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Landrieu, Vitter Block Obama Nominee Until Drill Permits Resume

Senator Mary Landrieu. Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Senator Mary Landrieu. Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter of Louisiana are blocking confirmation of an Obama administration nominee in an effort to force a resumption of offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Vitter, a Republican, will oppose acting on Daniel Ashe to lead the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until the government issues 15 deep-water exploration permits, he said in a statement yesterday. Vitter is using a Senate procedure that lets a single lawmaker block action on a nominee.

“I support Senator Vitter’s hold on the confirmation” of Ashe “until the Interior Department issues new deep-water permits,” Landrieu, a Democrat, said today. “Louisiana’s congressional delegation will continue to apply pressure on the administration to end what amounts to an ongoing moratorium on oil and gas drilling that is costing Louisiana thousands of jobs.”

Almost 10 months after BP Plc’s Macondo well exploded, setting off the biggest U.S. oil spill, drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet (152 meters) remains stalled because energy companies haven’t proved they have ships and equipment ready to handle catastrophic blowouts, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement said on Feb. 4.

To contact the reporter on this story: Katarzyna Klimasinska in Washington at kklimasinska@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net.

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