The Times has a good backgrounder explaining why, amid all the sternly-worded letters and talk of moratoriums, deepwater drilling is still moving forward. Some of the reason is the usual Interior Department incompetence, but a lot of it is that Interior is just administering the current drilling laws, which are too lax.
There’s one Senator quoted in the article, Ben Cardin of Maryland. Mary Landrieu, David Vitter, Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby are all notable because of their absence. Vitter’s an interesting example, because he was introducing amendments to force offshore drilling 8 months ago. Now he’s criticizing Democrats for having too many media events around the spill.
For better or worse, regional delegations take the lead on legislation that affects their region. When farmers want something, John Thune, Kent Conrad and other farm state Senators and Representatives get together to make it happen. Chuck Schumer and the rest of the New York delegation keeps Wall Street in bonuses. If the Gulf state delegations aren’t interested in drilling reform, Interior will continue to issue permits for wells almost twice as deep as Deepwater Horizon.