Factbox: Reaction to Obama’s offshore drilling decision

(BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama extended on Thursday a moratorium on new offshore oil drilling by six months in the wake of BP’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Following are comments on this announcement:

* U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

“If the delay is for a season to ensure we have the highest levels of protection in place, that’s one thing. But if it means that existing permits are allowed to lapse – effectively killing Shell’s participation in Alaska – that’s not acceptable to me or Alaska.”

“We need to be able to tell Shell that this one-year delay isn’t in reality a life sentence. Otherwise this decision puts Shell’s entire Alaska program at risk.”

* Steven Newman, Chief Executive Officer, Transocean Ltd

“I think a pause is prudent,” Newman told a congressional hearing, adding that he thinks the pause should only apply to deepwater drilling permits. “It’s incredibly important to understand what happened and how to prevent such leaks in the future.”

He said long term the Gulf is important to the U.S. economy. “The ability of the U.S. to manage risk is far superior to other areas of the world and I’d hate to see us export that challenge.”

* U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat

“We need to establish a complete moratorium on all leasing and drilling activity until it is established that all of it was done and is being done in full compliance with various environmental laws — most notably the (National Environmental Policy Act) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act,” Dingell said at a congressional hearing on the oil spill.

“I don’t believe that new regulation is necessary at this time, quite frankly, because, had our current environmental laws simply been followed, we might not be in the mess we are currently in,” added Dingell, who helped craft several major U.S. environmental laws.

* Jack Gerard, President, American Petroleum Institute

“We understand the concerns many people have about offshore drilling in the wake of this incident, and the frustration many feel toward oil companies. But this issue is much larger than the oil industry, since access to affordable energy impacts every sector of our economy, every state in our nation and every American family. Further, thousands of products – from toothpaste to iPods, cell phones to computers, and vitamins to vegetables – use oil and natural gas as a feedstock in the manufacturing process.

“A moratorium on safely producing our oil and natural gas resources from the Gulf of Mexico would create a moratorium on economic growth and job creation — especially in the Gulf States whose people and economies have already been most affected by the oil spill — by undercutting our nation’s access to affordable, reliable, domestic sources of oil and natural gas.”

* Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club

“It’s very encouraging to see President Obama taking steps to end the lax safety regulations the oil industry has fought so hard to maintain and to put a stop to more drilling in areas like the Arctic and Virginia. The changes President Obama announced will help reduce the risk of another catastrophic oil blowout. These are important short-term moves, but these steps won’t solve the underlying problems caused by our reliance on oil.”

Bob McDonnell, Governor of Virginia

“It is my hope that the president’s action does not signal the end of offshore energy exploration and production off Virginia in the years ahead. Once we have learned the lessons from this tragic accident, and made the necessary changes and improvements in the offshore industry and government oversight, we should move forward with environmentally responsible domestic offshore energy production for oil and natural gas.”

* Marilyn Heiman, Director, Pew Environment Group’s U.S. Arctic Program

“We are very pleased with the President’s decision to suspend Arctic exploration drilling this summer. A delay until 2011 will provide the affected communities and agencies the opportunity to further study proposed drilling technology, oil spill response capabilities and the effects of oil drilling in the sensitive Arctic marine environment.”

* Gene Karpinski, President, LCV

“We commend President Obama for continuing the moratorium on new deepwater oil drilling permits pending the recommendations of the independent presidential commission, which includes delaying leases sales off the coast of Alaska. The ongoing tragedy in the Gulf Coast clearly demonstrates that our dependence on oil – be it from hostile nations or friendly coasts – hurts our economy, threatens our security and harms our environment.”

* Thomas Pyle, President, Institute for Energy Research

“Canceling lease sales is purely a public relations move designed to show that the White House is doing ‘something’ to address the tragic accident in the Gulf. But the truth is, if these lease sales move forward, exploration in those areas would not take place for years.”

Stock Market Report

(Compiled by John Poirier, additional reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Factbox: Reaction to Obama’s offshore drilling decision