[UPDATE: The Interior Department denies that it has extended a drilling freeze to shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which contradicts the e-mail written below by MMS supervisor of field operations for the Gulf of Mexico, according to The Washington Post.]

The Associated Press has just reported that the Obama administration is blocking all new offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Confirmation of the ban comes a day after regulators approved a new permit for drilling in shallow water.

The Minerals Management Service, which oversees offshore drilling, says in an e-mail from its Gulf Coast office that “until further notice” no new drilling is being allowed in the Gulf, “no matter the water depth.” A copy of the e-mail was obtained by The Associated Press.

The announcement comes a day after the MMS granted a new drilling permit for a site about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, 115 feet below the ocean surface. Environmental groups said the administration was misleading the public by allowing work to resume in waters up to 500 feet deep while maintaining a moratorium on deepwater drilling.

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