Congressman Charles Boustany is spearheading an effort in Congress to convince the Obama administration to lift a Gulf drilling moratorium for shallow water operations. Earlier this month, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued the moratorium on offshore drilling while a review of the tragic Deepwater Horizon rig explosion is completed and delivered to Obama by May 28.

“Shallow water oil and gas production differs greatly from deep water production," Boustany says in a released statement. "Secretary Salazar must not cripple the 5,000-plus jobs that rely on shallow water production, which would happen if the permitting process halts those in shallow water.”

Shallow water operators mainly drill for natural gas, have much quicker turnaround times than deepwater rigs, and typically have above-water blowout preventers, the key malfunctioning piece of equipment on Deepwater Horizon. Boustany has teamed up with Democratic Congressman Gene Green of Texas in drafting a letter, to be sent today to Salazar, asking that the ban on shallow water drillers be lifted. Already, the letter has more than 50 co-signers, including Salazar's brother, Democratic Rep. John Salazar of Colorado, according to Boustany spokesperson Rick Curtsinger.

“Specifically, we are concerned," the letter states, "that there are approximately 57 shallow water rigs currently operating in the Gulf of Mexico, and that as many as 50 of those rigs within the next six weeks will be unable to work if the moratorium is not lifted for shallow water drilling operations. Additionally, at least 5,000 direct jobs from the shallow water rigs alone would be lost in the Gulf Coast region.”

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