The Obama administration has lifted a six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that was imposed after the massive BP oil spill began in April.
The administration has been under heavy pressure from the industry and others in the region to lift the ban on grounds that it has cost jobs and damaged the economy.
A federal report said the moratorium likely caused a temporary loss of 8,000-12,000 jobs in the Gulf region.
While the temporary ban on exploratory drilling is lifted immediately, drilling is unlikely to resume immediately. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that new rules imposed after the BP spill have strengthened safety measures and reduced the risk of a catastrophic blowout.
The BP spill erupted after a deadly explosion at the "Deepwater Horizon," an offshore oil-drilling rig that was operating more than 10,000 meters below the sea surface in waters more than 1,000 meters deep, eventually spewing more than 4 million barrels of crude oil into the waters of the Gulf. BP declared the spill permanently sealed on September 19.
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