U.S. Sen. David Vitter made the following comments after the Interior Department conducted its first drilling lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico in more than a year.
"Today's lease sale offered a few signs of hope, but it raised many more questions about Washington's off-course energy policy. The number of companies bidding on the various tracts has dropped off significantly since President Obama took office -- apparently a direct consequence of the uncertainty caused by the current energy policy in Washington. Permits are still being issued too slowly, and that too puts a damper on job creation along our Gulf Coast.
"The fact that the lease sale was somewhat successful is just one more piece of evidence that this administration has frozen the job market by restricting access to the resources that energy producers are ready to develop," said Vitter. "This sale brought in roughly $337 million to the federal treasury, and common sense should tell us that revenue from future lease sales will be an important part of getting our national debt under control."
Vitter last month sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar questioning his decision to throw out a previous five-year leasing plan for the outer continental shelf and replace it with a new plan that Vitter called "a huge missed opportunity."
Vitter also sent a letter to Salazar and former drilling regulator Michael Bromwich highlighting the total drop-off in federal revenue coming in due to the administration's policy on conducting offshore drilling lease sales -- from $10 billion in FY2008 to $0 to that point in 2011.
Vitter yesterday met with Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Watson, the newly appointed head of the agency that oversees permitting for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.