Barack Obama reversed a planned expansion of offshore drilling today, admitting he had been wrong to believe that oil companies were prepared to deal with a catastrophic oil spill.
He told a White House press conference he was ordering a six-month freeze on the opening up of the remote waters of the Arctic to oil exploration and on the drilling of 33 deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Proposed lease sales off the coast of Virginia and in the western Gulf would also be cancelled.
The US president said he was calling the pause to plans by Royal Dutch Shell to begin drilling exploratory wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, after studying an interior department review of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
He acknowledged that the enormity of the Gulf oil spill had forced a change in his earlier thinking that offshore drilling was safe and should remain a vital part of America's energy mix. "Where I was wrong was in my belief that the oil ...