*Newsflash* No new drilling in eastern Gulf

The Obama administration has decided not to grant any new leases in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Florida, for the foreseeable future, as a result of the BP spill.

AP broke the story, reporting that the ban would last seven years:

A senior administration official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that drilling leases won’t be considered in the waters off Florida as part of the change. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision hadn’t been announced yet.

He said that because of the BP spill, the administration now understands the need to elevate safety and environmental standards. Before the spill, the administration had considered a plan to allow drilling in the eastern Gulf.

One note of caution: the NY Times has the same story, but is reporting that the ban would last “at least for the next five years”. Presumably the picture will become clearer when Ken Salazar has made the formal announcement this afternoon.

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