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Vitter Blocks Interior Nominee Until U.S. Extends Oil Leases

Aug. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, said he will block confirmation of an Interior Department official until the U.S. extends leases for Gulf of Mexico oil exploration.

Vitter will prevent Rebecca Wodder from becoming assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks until the owners of all the leases expiring this year are given extra time to compensate for delays tied to last year’s BP Plc oil spill, said his spokesman, Luke Bolar.

The Interior Department on June 29 issued a notice to lease holders with instructions for seeking more time on the Gulf leases. The administration hasn’t declined any requests for extensions so far, Melissa Schwartz, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Vitter wants a “blanket” extension, without any further action required by lease holders, Bolar said.

BP, based in London, is the top leaseholder in the Gulf, followed by San Ramon, California-based Chevron Corp., Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc of The Hague.

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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