White House: no new drilling until oil spill review

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Friday said there would be no oil drilling authorized in new areas until a review of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been conducted.

President Barack Obama in March unveiled plans for a limited expansion of offshore oil drilling, in part to try to win Republican support for climate change legislation.

The oil spill that is threatening the coast of Louisiana has provided ammunition to critics of Obama’s proposal, and the White House sought to make clear there would be no new drilling authorized until the cause of the spill had been reviewed.

“No additional drilling has been authorized and none will until we find out what happened here and whether there was something unique and preventable here,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“No domestic drilling in new areas is going to go forward until there is a adequate review of what’s happened here and of what is being proposed elsewhere,” he said.

The White House is also making clear that it is moving quickly to help the situation. President George W. Bush was sharply criticized for a federal response that was seen as too slow in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Axelrod said the Coast Guard was on the scene almost immediately after the spill, the deputy Interior secretary was on the ground the next day, and there had been coordination with local authorities and BP, the majority owner of the offshore well.

“What I’m concerned about is that we do every single thing we can to remediate this problem, to stop the flow, and that’s what’s going on,” Axelrod said.

Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Stacey Joyce