The U.S. government banned offshore oil and natural gas drilling following the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, caused by the failure of a deep-water well. The moratorium was lifted in October 2010, though drilling permits weren't issued until March 2011.
U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the committee is considering whether to subpoena the Interior Department to force it to respond to questions about the need for the moratorium.
"While the actions of the Interior Department demonstrate it has chosen to ignore the legitimate oversight responsibilities of the committee, we are dedicated to acquiring information and straight answers about the decisions and actions of the administration that caused lost jobs and economic harm in the gulf," he said in a statement.
The Senate in March voted 76-22 in favor of the so-called RESTORE Act. It would designate some fines collected from British energy company BP from the 2010 oil spill to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Most of the fines would go toward the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.
The National Wildlife Federation had described coastal wetlands and ecosystems as "the lifeblood of the gulf economy."
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