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October 13, 2010 8:20 AM, EDT

Obama Lifts Ban on Deepwater Oil Drilling

The Obama administration has lifted a moratorium on deep-water oil drilling that it imposed in April in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Associated Press reported.

The ban had been scheduled to expire at the end of November, but Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday he moved up the date because new rules imposed after the spill had reduced the risk of another catastrophic blowout

Industry leaders waiting for details of new rules said the moratorium would not truly be lifted until then, AP reported.

“We believe the strengthened safety measures we have implemented, along with improved spill response and blowout containment capabilities, have reduced risks to a point where operators who play by the rules and clear the higher bar can be allowed to resume,” Salazar said in a statement.

The April 20 BP spill was triggered by an explosion that killed 11 people, gushed an estimated 200 million gallons of oil and harmed fishing and tourist industries on the Gulf Coast.

BP sealed the well last month and expects to eventually pay at least $32 billion to handle the cleanup and damage claims, AP reported.