Landrieu Stays Firm on Holding Up Nominee Over Drilling Ban

Posted September 29, 2010 at 5:16pm

Sen. Mary Landrieu reiterated Wednesday that she will not be talked out of her hold on the nomination of Jacob Lew to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The Louisiana Democrat announced the hold last week in protest over President Barack Obama’s six-month moratorium on deepwater offshore drilling, which was handed down last spring after the explosion in April of a BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

“My hold on Mr. Lew’s nomination will remain for the same reason it was placed originally: The administration has not acted to lift its ill-conceived moratoria on offshore drilling that are having such a devastating impact on working people and small businesses throughout the Gulf Coast,” Landrieu said in a floor statement.

“The evidence is overwhelming that this moratorium is a poor economic policy and has achieved no safety improvements that could not have been achieved in its absence,” she said. “Yet, the President and his key advisers have never acknowledged that fact. And most disturbing to me and others, who are firmly committed to energy security for our nation, they also seem to ignore the reality that America needs domestic oil and gas production well into the future.”

Landrieu held separate meetings Tuesday with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees offshore oil exploration. They discussed the drilling ban and her hold, but the meetings did not yield progress, her office said.

The OMB has been without a confirmed director since July 31, when Peter Orszag stepped down. The office has an interim director, but Senate Democrats hoped to clear Lew’s nomination and have him in place by the end of the September work stretch. It is unclear whether Obama will exercise his recess appointment power during the upcoming break to install Lew in the role.